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Volume 24 No. 137
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     The MLB Expansion Committee unanimously recommended  that
MLB proceed with expansion of four teams, two of which will be
awarded in an "expeditious manner" and two more franchises to be
added in a "reasonable amount of time thereafter."  MLB Acting
Commissioner Bud Selig: "Expansion continues to be on a fast
track" (MLB).  Expansion Committee Chair John Harrington hinted
that the final steps in the process could be completed at the
next owners' meeting, scheduled to be held March 7-9.  But there
are indications a meeting could be held in early February (Marc
Topkin, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/21).  Four cities have made
official expansion bids:  Tampa-St. Pete, Phoenix, Orlando, and
two separate groups from Northern VA, with Tampa and Phoenix
considered front runners.  The cost for the next two franchises
is estimated at $125-140M.  The first two teams will be chosen
from the four finalists, but the second two teams will most
likely be chosen from a larger list of applicants that could
include Vancouver, Mexico City, Monterrey, Nashville, Buffalo and
Charlotte (Mult., 1/21).
     TAMPA BAY:  Tampa Bay's expansion effort is headed by Vince
Naimoli, and if chosen, would likely be placed in the AL.  Yankee
Owner George Steinbrenner, who has been an advocate for the area
getting a team: "This is a good sign."  Sen. Connie Mack (R-FL),
who had suggested that he would drop his opposition to MLB's
antitrust exemption if Tampa gets a team: "I hope this is a sign
the long ordeal of heartbreaks and headaches is coming to an end"
(Marc Topkin, ST. PETE TIMES, 1/21).  In Tampa, Joe Henderson
writes, "If Tampa Bay doesn't get a team out of that mix, it
never will and we all can get on with our lives" (TAMPA TRIBUNE,
1/21).    PHOENIX:  Suns Owner Jerry Colangelo is heading up this
city's efforts and is very confident that he will gain a team:
"This was a big hurdle.  We're well on our way to being one of
the up and coming cities of the next century" (PHOENIX GAZETTE,
1/21).  The city has placed an April 1 deadline for a team to be
named so that public money can be allocated for the new $275M
stadium.  If MLB owners insist on having two teams begin play in
'97, Phoenix may not make the first round since their stadium
will not be ready until '98 (Maske & Lipton, WASHINGTON POST,
1/21).  But one MLB  owner said of Tampa and Phoenix: "It's a
fait accompli.  Those franchises have been promised to Phoenix
and Tampa" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 1/21).  Colangelo also
has begun plans to find a temporary home for the '97 season.  The
most likely site is the Peoria Sports Complex.  Still, Colangelo
thinks the next two teams will not begin play until '98 (Eric
Miller, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/21).
     NORTHERN VA:  There are two groups vying for a team:  one
headed by telecomm exec Bill Collins and the other by attorney
Bart Fisher.  Many baseball and local officials have acknowledged
that Collins' partnership will be awarded the franchise if the
owners select this area.  Collins said he has reached a
"memorandum of understanding" on a temporary lease at RFK
Stadium, which would require $7M in renovations.  The team would
play there until a new park is built, probably near Dulles Int'l
Airport (Maske & Lipton, WASHINGTON POST, 1/21).  While the
proximity of the Orioles always had hurt expansion efforts in the
area, the "unpopularity" of Orioles Owner Peter Angelos among his
peers "has made that a moot point."  MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr:
"They might want to punish Angelos by putting a team there.
That's the sort of under-the-table comment you pick up" (Mark
Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 1/21).
     ORLANDO:  Real estate developer Norton Herrick is leading
the drive for an Orlando franchise.  Herrick: "If they award a
team to St. Petersburg, I'd have to rethink my position in
Orlando.  I'm not sure if Central Florida can support two teams"