BASEBALL EXPANSION TEAMS LIKELY TO BEGIN IN '98
Although no definite decisions were made during a conference
call Friday, MLB's expansion committee "is thinking 1998 for two
new teams to begin play, rather than a year earlier." Also
discussed were the expansion fees, which is expected to be
between $125M and $140M, the timing of the payments, and when the
new teams should start sharing national broadcast money.
Favorites for expansion continue to be Phoenix and Tampa Bay.
Vince Naimoli, who heads the Tampa Bay group: "It's not a
surprise to me, I guess. I was optimistic it would be '97, but
the obstacles proved to be too large" (Bill Chastain, TAMPA
TRIBUNE, 2/11). In Washington, Mark Maske writes that Metro DC's
chances "were dealt a blow." Northern VA stood the best chance
of being included in the first round due to the fact that Phoenix
can't have its retractable roof stadium ready until '98
(WASHINGTON POST, 2/11).
"DONE DEAL" IN PHOENIX? Jerry Colangelo, president of the
Suns and head of a group bidding for an expansion baseball
franchise for Phoenix, said that he saw no possibility that
Phoenix's bid could be derailed. Colangelo told THE SPORTS
BUSINESS DAILY: "We have the market. They've expressed their
great interest in having us participate. I think on March 9th
when the owners meet in Palm Beach it should be a done deal.
We're looking forward to the future of baseball, not the present
circumstances of baseball. And we're excited about building a
$275 million facility that will be a world-class facility."
Asked whether he had any concerns about joining the MLB's
ownership ranks considering the game's present condition,
Colangelo said, "I think baseball has a great future because it
can't get any worse. It can only get better." Asked his
position on the present dispute, Colangelo held up the NBA as a
model: "You have a partnership that exists between the players
and the owners -- a revenue-sharing plan. ... We've never had a
work stoppage in the NBA. Why not look at that model and pattern
yourself after it?" (THE DAILY).
THE NHL, TOO? According to Friday's ARIZONA REPUBLIC, if
one of Canada's small-market teams falters, it could end up in
Phoenix. Phoenix Arena Sports President Bryan Colangelo: "We've
had discussions with some NHL teams and that has been on public
record. We've also had discussions with others who remain
nameless and have been on hold due to situations working out
locally and in those respective cities. But we are keeping a
watchful eye on those scenarios and are waiting for something to
come out of it." Jerry Colangelo is confident Phoenix will get
an NHL team, and according to the REPUBLIC, Colangelo has been
assured by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that the league wants a
franchise in Phoenix. J. Colangelo: "The question is only when
and how, whether it's two or three years, and whether it's
through expansion or relocation" (TORONTO STAR, 2/11).