|Selig lobbies South Florida officials on Marlins ballpark|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 28 August 2007 13:16|
Selig said he came away from the meetings satisfied the local officials want a new home for their baseball team.
``It was clear to me that all of us on the same page - we want to get a stadium deal done down here as expeditiously as possible,'' Selig said. ``I would regard both meetings as very, very constructive.''
The Marlins have been lobbying for a new home since the mid-1990s. The commissioner declined to discuss funding or sites, issues that have stymied three team owners, and he declined to set a deadline.
He also shed little light as to why he chose to become directly involved now.
``We've had a lot of stops and starts,'' Selig said. ``There were a number times we thought we were close, and then it turned out we weren't. I thought now was the appropriate time.''
Among those meeting with Selig were Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and City Manager Pete Hernandez, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez and County Manager George Burgess. They didn't return messages seeking comment.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria also attended. The team declined to comment.
The city and county meetings each lasted about two hours but involved no negotiations, said Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer. He said the meetings had been in the works for more than a month and were requested by Selig.
``It underscores the industry's commitment to baseball in South Florida,'' DuPuy said. ``It underscores the priority of the issue. And it underscores his willingness to get involved.''
DuPuy has represented Major League Baseball in ballpark talks, making about a dozen trips to South Florida. The most recent setback came in May, when the Legislature failed to approve a $60 million subsidy to help build a $490 million, retractable-roof stadium.
The Miami Hurricanes' decision last week to move football games from the Orange Bowl to Dolphin Stadium beginning next year fueled speculation the city will lure the Marlins to the Orange Bowl site. The franchise and Major League Baseball prefer a downtown Miami location.
DuPuy said no sites were ruled out Tuesday. He and Selig declined to discuss the Orange Bowl as an option. Selig did say a retractable roof remains a necessity.
The commissioner's visit came at a low point for the franchise. A loss Monday was the 12th in 13 games for the Marlins, who are last in the NL East, and attendance has never been worse, with fewer than 3,000 fans in the stands often in recent weeks.
Selig said the Marlins are handcuffed by playing in the Miami Dolphins' stadium. He noted that three teams in Florida's division - the New York Mets, Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies - either have a new stadium or will soon.
``I believe in this market,'' Selig said. ``You give the Marlins a new stadium with all the revenue streams their competitors have, and this will be a great franchise, I'm very confident.''