SBD/1/Leagues Governing Bodies

MLB EXPANSION COMMITTEE SET TO HEAR PROPOSALS TODAY

     MLB's expansion committee will hear presentations today from
civic leaders from three potential franchise sites, Phoenix,
Tampa-St. Petersburg and Northern VA, to determine whether to add
at least two more teams -- and, if so, where they should be
located.  The committee's first decision will be to decide
whether baseball should expand at all, and if the expected
benefits could overcome the damage of the labor dispute (Mark
Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 11/1).  Expansion and its job-creation
possibilities could be used by the owners as a bargaining chip in
labor talks.  Expansion would also bring in millions in franchise
fees, possibly more than $150M for each entry, as well as placate
members of Congress threatening to revoke baseball's antitrust
exemption (Thom Loverro, WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/1).  Expansion
committee chair John Harrington said he believes the owners would
support expansion, but Orioles Owner Peter Angelos remains
staunchly opposed: "I believe the possible expansion sites should
be reserved for the relocation of franchises that could not be
expected to draw a sufficient number of fans even with modern
ballparks."  The committee plans to decide in December or January
whether to recommend further expansion.  Harrington said that the
entire ownership body will make a final decision in February or
March (WASHINGTON POST, 11/1).
     FRONTRUNNERS?  Tampa Bay and Phoenix are widely considered
the "leading candidates by many in and around baseball."  St.
Petersburg civic leader Jack Critchfield said his major concern
was whether the committee will decide to expand.  But Phoenix
leader/NBA Suns President Jerry Colangelo is confident an
expansion team would be awarded because MLB "needs the positives
a new franchise will bring" (Marc Topkin, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES,
11/1).  Joe Hendersen writes, "Most everyone west of Orlando
believes Tampa Bay will get" a franchise (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/1).
     WHEN IN DOUBT, RELOCATE:  Although Northern VA attorney Bart
Fisher said he was "pumped up about our chances" of landing an
expansion team, he said they will also explore buying an existing
franchise: "We will be looking at Oakland after December 6, when
the local auction deadline expires.  We will be looking at other
small-market teams that may become available as well.  We are
still very interested in relocation" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/1).
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