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MLB OWNERS TO HEAR FINAL PRESENTATIONS FOR EXPANSION BIDS
Published March 7, 1995
The MLB expansion committee will meet this afternoon in Palm Beach, FL, with the five competing groups bidding for an expansion franchise. After hearing the final proposals, the committee will meet with the Executive Council tonight, and sources say the committee "almost certainly will recommend" that Phoenix and Tampa-St. Pete be awarded MLB's next two franchises (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/7). Full ownership could make a formal decision by Thursday. Expansion committee Chair John Harrington "is confident owners will approve expansion," but is not sure new franchises will be awarded this week. Harrington: "Whether we get into selecting sites, ownership groups ... a lot of that can be deferred. I don't know what the wishes of the owners will be in light of the labor situation." Two teams could begin play in '98, with two more possibly starting as early as 2000 (Marc Topkin, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 3/7). TAMPA BAY: On Monday, MLB baseball officials spent three hours touring the ThunderDome and said that, with some modifications, the facility would be "quite adequate." Tampa officials "expect to make use of a state program" to raise revenue to finance stadium improvements. One area news station reported the team would be named the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Ownership leader Vince Namoli denied a name had been selected (Marc Topkin, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 3/7). ORLANDO: If Orlando is not selected in the first round, it could leave the city in the position of being "the new hot relocation spot for established teams seeking leverage" as they look for better stadium and revenue deals (Tracy & Lebowitz, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/7). Twins Owner Carl Pohlad repsonded to a rumor that an Orlando group was trying to buy the team and move them to FL: "When somebody brings me a check, then I'll know there is some interest. Then, if I try to sell, my wife, Eloise, and my mother will probably kill me" (Sid Hartman, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/7). NORTHERN VA: Members of the two Northern VA groups remain hopeful they will be selected, "based upon the belief that the Tampa-St. Pete group will balk" at the $140M franchise fee. One MLB owner told the WASHINGTON POST: "Northern Virginia has made a very strong bid. I think they are right there for the second round of expansion. But they still have some work to do" (Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/7). William Collins, who heads Virginia Baseball, believed to be the stronger of the two groups: "It would be absolutely devastating to this effort if we are not announced as one, two or three" (Thom Loverro, WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/7). PHOENIX: The only deadline for ownership to award a franchise is April 1. Phoenix would lose its $253M in public stadium financing if it hasn't been awarded a team by then. Nike and Dial Corp. are part of an investment group headed by Suns Owner Jerry Colangelo (AP/WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/7).