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BASEBALL OWNERS INITIATE THEIR NEW PARTNERS WITH FEE HIKE
Published March 9, 1995
Although the official announcement that MLB will expand to Tampa Bay and Phoenix is expected after an ownership vote today, sources told the TAMPA TRIBUNE that a ploy by baseball owners to raise the expansion fee yesterday caused great concern among the new cities' ownership groups. Joe Henderson and Bill Chastain report that the owners tried to raise the fee to $175M, an increase from the $140M price that Arizona's Jerry Colangelo and Tampa Bay's Vince Naimoli had been "was firm." Both Colangelo and Naimoli apparently were told of the price increase before yesterday's meetings, and "refused to budge." At one point, "Colangelo threatened to walk away from his bid and go public with the owners' tactics. And Naimoli was prepared to renew his dormant lawsuit against owners," resulting from MLB's '92 blockage of his purchase of the Giants. Eventually, "after hours of haggling, marked by sharp exchanges" behind closed doors, both Colangelo and Naimoli agreed to a compromise: both will pay "slightly more than" $150M (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/9). BRIDESMAIDS: While negotiations between owners and Colangelo and Naimoli went on, representatives from the Northern VA and Orlando groups waited in the lobby. Orlando group leader Norton Herrick "insinuated" that baseball officials had him stay close to put pressure on Naimoli and Colangelo: "They could say, 'If you don't want to pay the price, we'll go to Herrick.' Vince [Naimoli] would have been better off paying me and D.C. $10- million to get us out of the lobby, he might have saved money that way" (Romano & Topkin, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 3/9). WELCOME TO BASEBALL, JERRY: In this morning's ARIZONA REPUBLIC, Eric Miller notes Colangelo's mood: "It was obvious that Colangelo wasn't quite used to the raucous political ways of the 28 team owners who conduct their often-secret business operations differently than the National Basketball Association. ... It almost seemed as if Colangelo was having second thoughts about joining the ranks of the baseball-owners club." Colangelo: "Six or nine months ago, I said the only thing that could prevent this from happening was greed" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/9). LEAGUE MATTERS: A three-quarters vote from each league is necessary for expansion. Which league (or leagues) the teams will be placed in is still uncertain. Both leagues and the expansion committee debated that Wednesday. Colangelo said the teams may be assigned to one league now, but play in another (Henderson & Chastain, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/9). ESPN's Peter Gammons reported several owners want Phoenix to join Tampa Bay in AL, to avoid interleague play ("SportsCenter," 3/8). There was also talk that the teams may not receive a cut of national TV revenue for as many as five seasons. Florida and Colorado missed TV revenues for only one season (Romano & Topkin, ST. PETE TIMES, 3/9).