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Volume 24 No. 155

Leagues Governing Bodies

     Special Mediator William Usery addressed the owners at their
meeting in Palm Beach, FL, for 30 minutes yesterday, and, as
expected, he urged them to make their "best offer" when
negotiations resume.  What was not expected was Usery's
"emotional and somewhat irritated" appearance at a press
conference later.  Usery:  "After 30-something years in this
process and over 1,000 national major disputes in America, this
one has gotten almost for us where it's embarrassing and
ridiculous" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/10).  Acting MLB
Commissioner Bud Selig and Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris, who is
heading the owners' negotiating team, said they would comply with
Usery's request.  But Murray Chass notes, "It's what would happen
after they make their 'best offer' that could have an impact on
the progression of the talks."  According to a source at the
meeting, Chuck O'Connor, management's chief attorney, suggested
the negotiating committee "make its 'best offer' to satisfy
Usery, but then not budge from that offer."  That position "would
confirm the fears" of the union (N.Y. TIMES, 3/10).  ESPN's Peter
Gammons:  "A lot of owners think they see a victorious end-game
now. ... After they make the 'best' offer next week and get it
rejected, you may see the owners declare another impasse,
implement this proposal and have something in place if the
players cross" ("SportsCenter," 3/9).
     WHERE NOW?  In Denver, Tracy Ringolsby reports the talks
will resume Tuesday -- most likely in Dallas or Atlanta (ROCKY
MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/10).

     MLB owners unanimously welcomed the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and
Arizona Diamondbacks to baseball.  The Teams will start play in
the '98 season.
     THE TAB:  Each team will pay a $130M entry fee -- which
essentially be rise to $155M when other factors kick in.  For
each of their first five years, the new teams will receive $5M
less than existing franchises from MLB's Central Fund.  The loss
in revenue from the fund, which includes national TV/radio
rights, will total $25M.  Teams begin making payments on July 1,
1995 with a $32M contribution.  They will then pay $25M on July
1, 1996, $40M on July 1, 1997 and $33M on November 1, 1997 --
before the expansion draft.  Each expansion team will be allowed
to choose 40 players from existing clubs (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY,
3/10).
     THE LEAGUE:  Owners did not decide where to place the new
clubs.  That will be determined by January 1, 1997.  Many expect
Tampa Bay to go to the AL because of the NL's presence in South
FL and Atlanta (Jason Davis, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/10).  Placing a
team in each league would create a need for interleague play,
"which many owners want to avoid."  Phillies Owner Bill Giles:
"That's why we tabled it" (Henderson & Chastain, TAMPA TRIBUNE,
3/10).
     THE FIELDS OF DREAMS:  Tampa Bay will play at the five-year-
old Thunderdome in St. Petersburg, current home of the NHL
Lightning.  Discussions in '92, when the Giants were planning a
move to the area, showed plans to redesign some features of the
dome into "the mold set by Camden Yards."  There have also been
discussions about installing a grass field in the indoor facility
(Noam Neuser, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/10).  Most of the $35M-$43M
necessary for improvements will come from state taxes (TAMPA
TRIBUNE, 3/10).  Maricopa County, AZ, will fund $238M of a new
$278M needed to build a retractable dome stadium in downtown
Phoenix for the Diamondbacks.  The facility will seat 47,000 and
be located just two blocks east of America West Arena.
Colangelo's ownership group will pay $24M for the arena, while a
loan for $15M will be paid through advanced suite sales.  Sixty-
two of the 70 available luxury suites have already been reserved.
According to the ARIZONA REPUBLIC, Bank One has reportedly agreed
to pay $110M for 30-year naming rights for the facility (Bill
Chastain, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/10).
     DEVIL OF A NAME:  Amid controversy about the name chosen for
the Tampa team, the Devil Rays, Vince Naimoli, head of the Tampa
Bay ownership group, announced the team will let fans decide
between Devil Rays and Manta Rays.  Through March 17, fans will
be able to call a local phone number to register their choice
(ST. PETE TIMES, 3/10).  Columnist David Whitley: "With the
nation looking on, Naimoli spent his 15 minutes of fame
explaining how naming the team Devil Rays will not cause citizens
of Tampa Bay to scratch 666 into their scalps, drink chicken
blood and start playing Nirvana CD's backwards" (TAMPA TRIBUNE,
3/10)
     FRONT OFFICE:  Rich Dozer is expected to be named
Diamondbacks' President (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/9).  Colangelo has
hired Joe Garagiola Jr. as Diamondbacks' GM.  Tampa Bay has yet
to name any baseball personnel, but Naimoli says within 60-90
days he plans on naming a GM to make most on-field personnel
decisions (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/10).

     Groups from Orlando and Northern VA were both told that
additional expansion could come soon.  Acting MLB Commissioner
Bud Selig:  "I expect the clubs will continue to consider
expanding and it will take place sooner rather than later" (MLB).
In Orlando, Norton Herrick still has the exclusive rights to seek
a team for the city.  A penny tourist tax to build a $150M park
is also still in place.  Herrick:  "It's just a temporary
setback.  We'll be there for the next expansion, we'll continue
to push" (Lawrence Lebowitz, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/10).  In and
around DC, the two groups attempting to bring baseball to
Northern VA said yesterday they would "turn their attention to
purchasing an existing franchise and moving it to Virginia"
(Lipton & Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/10).  Columnist Tom Boswell
writers that this will be the last expansion for a "long time,"
especially if owners get the labor deal they want.  Boswell
believes the DC area's best bet is an existing team and urges
Virginia Baseball Chair Bill Collins's to look "to buy the first
team that's driven into bankruptcy by the strike" (WASHINGTON
POST, 3/10).