SBD/7/Leagues Governing Bodies

MLB OWNERS TO HEAR FINAL PRESENTATIONS FOR EXPANSION BIDS

     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).
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