|| Write Us | Help | Sponsors | Classifieds | Employment | Forums | MarketPlace | Calendar | Headlines | Announcements | Weather | More... ||
|01-12-2004, 08:28 PM||#1|
Member Since: Aug 2003
Location: St. Mary's County
Major League Baseball panel scouts southeastern Virginia
NORFOLK, Va. -- Major League Baseball came to southeastern Virginia on Monday, with executives from the organization checking out the Hampton Roads region as a possible spot for the Montreal Expos to relocate.
The delegation met privately with Norfolk city officials and a group representing unidentified investors trying to bring Major League Baseball to one of the country's largest metropolitan areas without major-league sports.
"We've had a very constructive day," said Wendy Selig-Prieb, chairwoman of the Milwaukee Brewers board of directors and the daughter of Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig.
"We've enjoyed very much hearing more about the community and the community's interest in baseball," Selig-Prieb said during a brief news conference. She took no questions and left immediately to take a helicopter tour of the area.
Also part of the delegation were John McHale, executive vice president of Major League Baseball, and Jonathan Mariner, the organization's executive vice president of finance.
"We tried to answer for the representatives of Major League Baseball the question about can the region support a major league baseball team, and we're confident that it can," Mayor Paul D. Fraim said.
Fraim said officials put forth a preliminary stadium financing plan, but he gave few details of that plan or anything else that was discussed during the meeting. Fraim has said previously that he thinks a stadium could be built downtown for $300 million, without a tax increase.
The Expos, owned by the other major league teams, are expected to relocate next year. Other candidates include northern Virginia; the District of Columbia; Las Vegas; San Antonio; Portland, Ore.; Monterrey, Mexico; Mexico City; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Hampton Roads, with a population of more than 1.5 million, is among the largest metropolitan areas lacking a major-league sports franchise. In addition to Norfolk, the region includes Virginia Beach and several other cities and counties.
In recent years, efforts to bring a National Hockey League expansion team to Norfolk and to relocate the National Basketball Association's Charlotte Hornets here failed.
"We are Expos-ready," said William Somerindyke Jr., who along with fellow Virginia Beach native Jason Osborne represents the investors trying to lure Major League Baseball here.
"But if for some reason ... we don't get the Expos, we are going to keep on working" to attract other teams in the future, said Somerindyke. He and Osborne recently stepped down as investment analysts for Merrill Lynch to work full time on the baseball effort.
Earlier Monday, Mariner, a Norfolk native, went on a driving tour of the city with two Norfolk City Council members. Then, Mariner and McHale briefly visited Harbor Park, where the Triple-A Norfolk Tides play.
They looked out onto the field through a bank of windows at a stadium restaurant and were told that the stadium could be expanded to accommodate the Expos until a larger stadium could be built. They then met briefly in private with six council members.
"I am guardedly optimistic," Councilman Barclay Winn said afterward.
Reporters were barred from the rest of that event, which lasted about 15 minutes.
Charles Hartig, spokesman for Mayor Paul D. Fraim, said the city attorney had advised the city manager that the Harbor Park meeting could be private, despite the presence of most of the council, because it was social and no business was discussed.
"It was just a meet-and-greet. That's all it was," said Councilman Randy Wright.
Frosty Landon, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, said there was no violation of the state's open meetings law if there was no exchange of views.
But he said it was "really bad policy" to force reporters to leave. "There is no reason to protect confidentiality when you're just greeting and briefing," he said.
Brian Hannigan, spokesman for the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority, a state agency that has sought to relocate the Expos to northern Virginia, said he does not see the two Virginia bids being in conflict.
"In one respect, it's a blessing of riches that Major League Baseball is considering two areas in Virginia," he said. "It speaks well for the interest in baseball of Virginians."
A financing plan passed by the General Assembly to pay for most of a new ballpark could be used by any region of the state, Hannigan said.
"Northern Virginia has put together a strong bid. We're assured that Hampton Roads is also heading a serious effort. We're not leading that effort, but we're willing to be a participant," Hannigan said.
|[ Reply w/Quote ]|