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MLB EXPANSION COMMITTEE SET TO HEAR PROPOSALS TODAY
Published November 1, 1994
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).