SBD/13/Leagues Governing Bodies

EXPANSION CITIES CELEBRATE, BEGIN OPERATIONS

     Both the Devil (Manta?) Rays and Diamondbacks entered their
first weekend of existence with celebrations planned and the
drive for season tickets at a peak.  A look at other happenings
on the expansion scene:
     WELCOME WAGON:   After MLB owners threatened to raise the
franchise fee by $35M to $175M, Diamondbacks Owner Jerry
Colangelo remarked to Rays Owner Vince Naimoli:  "This is not the
way we treat our future partners in the NBA.  The new owners know
months in advance they're getting a team.  There are no
surprises.  We want them to feel good about joining us" (Joe
Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/12).
     JUST IN CASE:  "Jilted seven times since 1984," Naimoli was
ready with a response if MLB owners rejected Tampa for an eighth
time.  Naimoli had a letter in his pocket signed by FL Attorney
General Bob Butterworth informing the owners that "legal action
was commencing immediately on behalf of Tampa Bay against Major
League Baseball."  He didn't need to use it (Tracy Ringolsby,
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/12).
     GIVE AN INCH, TAKE A FOOT: Already the owner of a lease with
the ThunderDome that one former MLB owner called the "best lease
in baseball," Rays officials say they "'may' revisit the lease's
financial terms."  But St. Pete city officials say the team may
"find the well dry."  The team already will manage the dome, its
employees and receive all profits from non-baseball events.  The
Rays also have the rights to sell the Dome's name and keep the
first $10M plus 40% of the remaining profits from that deal.
Plus, the club will receive $1.4M from the city during each of
the first three years of the lease.  The city receives $.50 from
each ticket sold (Noam Neusner, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/11).  State
officials say improvements to the ThunderDome must help the Rays
operate or make money to receive funding.  FL Sports Foundation
Exec Dir Larry Pendleton said a waterfall did not merit state
fuding (Noam Neusner, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/12).
     EASY FINANCING:  In Phoenix, Former Maricopa County
Supervisor Jim Bruner, the man who cast the deciding vote for
county funding for the Diamondbacks' new retractable dome
stadium, says the $253M debt generated to build the park will be
serviced by the time the team takes the field.  Bruner:
"Basically, by the time the first (baseball) season comes around
the debt will be gone."  County taxpayers will pay for the park
with a quarter-cent sales tax increase (Mary Joe Pitzl, ARIZONA
REPUBLIC, 3/12).
     NONE FOR YOU!  If MLB decides to expand and bring the number
of teams to 32, the Rays and Diamondbacks will not see any of the
fees.  As part of the expansion agreement, they were told they
would be excluded from the next round of expansion revenues (Joe
Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/12).
     THE NAME GAME: By 6pm Friday, more than 15,000 people had
called the hotline to choose between Devil Rays and Manta Rays
for Tampa's team name.  Four telephone lines were added to the
eight originally set up to take calls because of the massive
response (Bob Chick TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/11).  TAMPA TRIBUNE
columnist Steve Otto on some of the reaction he's received from
fans disturbed by the Devil Rays name: One "guy wanted me to know
that Devil Ray spelled backward is 'yar lived' and that the word
'yar' is a satanic dog" (Steve Clark, RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH,
3/11).
     GET 'EM WHILE THEY'RE HOT:  Another 100 $50 season ticket
deposits were received Friday, giving the Rays a total of 32,179.
The team also received another $5,000 luxury suite deposit (Bob
Chick, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/11).
     VIRGINIANS UNITE!  Northern VA leaders were told to "settle
on one investor group" if they want to have a chance at MLB's
next expansion.  Both Virginia Baseball, led by William Collins,
and Capital Baseball, led by Bart Fisher, represented the region
in vying for the latest round of expansion (Eric Lipton,
WASHINGTON POST, 3/11).  Fisher will "push for stadium plans to
continue, even without a team" (Thom Loverro, WASHINGTON TIMES,
3/11).  For news on a possible Expos move to Northern VA, See
#14.
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