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ST. PETE OFFICIALS CAN'T MEET THUNDERDOME DEADLINE

     The future of baseball in Tampa-St. Pete has become
uncertain as officials in Pinellas County now say they "couldn't
meet an April 30 deadline even if they decided to increase
tourist taxes to help outfit the ThunderDome for baseball."  As
reported yesterday, renovations to the Dome will reportedly cost
at least $40M.  City officials will "probably" get $20-25M from a
"special state sales tax fund," which leaves officials
"scrambling" for the rest -- and Devil Rays Owner Vince Naimoli
"hinting" he could relocate the team.  After a meeting yesterday
between team and city officials, County Commissioner Steve
Seibert said they could not vote on raising the county's hotel
bed tax, which would cover about $20M, before May 16.  Other
county officials claimed they were not aware of the April 30
deadline and criticized Naimoli for "waiting until this week to
publicize" it.   Siebert said team officials would have to ask
the MLB for an extension (Neusner and Moncada, TAMPA TRIBUNE,
4/5).  MLB Expansion Committee Chair John Harrington:  "I believe
the deadline is very hard, not that it can't be varied.  They
have to get the commitment on that.  I can't say there's any room
for negotiations there" (Topkin, Seaton & Davey, ST. PETERSBURG
TIMES, 4/5).
In Orlando, Mike Zizzo speculates that a recent joke told to
Naimoli by Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood -- that the cities' rivalry
may continue since Orlando still has plans to build a "brand-new,
baseball-only, open-air stadium" -- "may have left Naimoli with
an option" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/5).
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