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The growing trend of franchises who threaten to move to "extract better-than-average deals in a free-market economy" is examined by Michael Granberry of the L.A. TIMES. The Chargers, who recently were granted more than $60M by the city to expand their Jack Murphy Stadium by 12,000 seats, benefited at a time when the fate of their NFL neighbors --the Rams and Raiders -- "was hanging fire." But the stadium expansion is "already affecting" the Padres, who claim that 72,000 seats are "far too many for a small-market baseball team." The Padres, whose lease expires in '99, want a baseball-only stadium similar to that of Camden Yards. By not contesting the Chargers' expansion, the Padres "may have signaled their plans." Jack Murphy renovations will be financed in part through additional revenue from club seating, sky boxes and increased capacity, as well as higher prices from concessions and parking, as well as $2.5M a year in city-issued bonds. According to City Manager Jack McGrory, the total 30-year debt service will be $7M a year. The Padres, with the help of New York investment firm Wertheim Schroder & Co., have countered with their own figures noting the "boon" that new baseball parks have been to Baltimore and Cleveland. The potential need for a new baseball stadium has, in turn, "dimmed" San Diego's hopes for a new 20,000-seat arena. Even Barry Lorge, a spokesperson for Arena Group 2000, which is trying to get the new arena built, admits, "Perhaps it's prudent to protect the franchises you have" (L.A. TIMES, 5/2).
With Mariners owners saying they will put the team up for sale next year if a new stadium isn't built, the future of the team appears to be in the hands of some dissenting lawmakers. The bill that passed the House last month to give a tax break on stadium construction costs and shift some of an existing tax on rental cars toward stadium bonds was never acted on by the Senate. Now, according to state Rep. Steve Van Luven, WA House members are trying to come up with a bill that a "very cautious" Legislature will support. Many members say government "should have no involvement" in building a stadium. And, Rep. Marlin Appelwick, has said that "support for a stadium-financing bill probably peaked a week ago" (David Postman, SEATTLE TIMES, 5/2).