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Paulwny
10-23-2001, 08:25 PM
Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Dissolution of Expos, Marlins fraught with problems
MONTREAL (CP) -- It won't be easy -- or cheap -- for major league baseball to free itself of its weak sisters.

A report this week suggested that baseball would drop two teams, a move it calls contraction, after the World Series by dissolving the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins.

But Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and author of Baseball and Billions, said contraction was unlikely.

"I think baseball would be sued by various parties and they'd be quite vulnerable," said Zimbalist, adding that top candidates to launch lawsuits would include the players' association and various U.S. states that want ball teams.

"And it would be very expensive to buy out two teams, their minor league affiliates and the stadium leases. I'd suspect they'd ask for what they paid for the teams plus their accumulated losses. For two teams, it would probably be about $400 million (US)."

That would put the cost at about $14 million US each for the remaining 28 clubs.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said this week that no decisions have been made on contraction, but in earlier statements, he said he would not rule it out.

"Baseball says contraction is a viable option, but we're planning for next year," Expos spokesman P.J. Loyello said Tuesday.

Baseball owners are to meet Nov. 6 in Chicago.

Reports have said some owners support dissolving the Expos and Marlins to rid baseball of its problem franchises and to make the remaining teams more competitive.

A report in the Windsor Star this week quoted an unidentified baseball official as saying contraction would be announced after the World Series.

"We're paying the owner of Montreal and owner of Florida to fold their teams," the official said. "Then we'll have a dispersal draft."

The report said Expos lead owner Jeffrey Loria may then buy the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and that Florida owner John Henry may do the same with Anaheim, whose current owner Disney is trying to unload.

But major obstacles stand in the way.

The players' association insists that baseball cannot fold teams, and thus eliminate jobs, without its permission.

The association sees talk of contraction as a threat being held over the players' heads as they enter negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Many players and some owners feel the current CBA should simply be extended for a year to avoid an unseemly squabble over multimillion-dollar salaries while North America is still in shock over the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The Associated Press reported this week that no information on contraction had been distributed to the owners and that schedules for next season have been made with Montreal and Florida on them.

A schedule released by the Marlins shows they open the 2002 season April 2 at Montreal.

Loyello said the Expos have not yet released their schedule because they are still negotiating a lease for Olympic Stadium for next season, which has been held up because the team is pushing for a new artificial surface to be installed.

The Expos drew an average of only 7,648 spectators to their domed stadium last season and their 619,541 tickets sold was the lowest in the major leagues.

Without a major improvement in the team's performance, more empty seats seem certain next season.

In its estimate of the value of sports franchises in March, Forbes magazine had the Expos 30th and last in baseball at $92 million US.

Florida was 28th at $128 million while Minnesota, now presumably worth more after a surprising season, was 29th at $99 million.

The most valuable team was the New York Yankees at $635
million.

Daver
10-23-2001, 08:40 PM
Why do I get the sinking feeling that we will be talking about the lack of baseball when April arrives?


I ain't saying,I'm just saying.

Paulwny
10-23-2001, 08:45 PM
Originally posted by daver
Why do I get the sinking feeling that we will be talking about the lack of baseball when April arrives?


I ain't saying,I'm just saying.

We'll be able to watch it in the courts of law.

Daver
10-23-2001, 08:51 PM
Originally posted by Paulwny


We'll be able to watch it in the courts of law.

I don't get court TV.

Paulwny
10-23-2001, 08:54 PM
Originally posted by daver


I don't get court TV.

Too bad, After I tire watching the anthrax news I get a few laughs watching the OJ road rage trial.