March 1, 2002 [LINK]
[Sale of Marlins to Loria is OK'd]
As expected, just in time for spring training, Major League Baseball owners just approved the sale of the Florida Marlins to former Montreal Expos owner Jeffrey Loria, who in turn sold the Expos to Major League Baseball, on a caretaker basis. Consequently, the doomed Canadian franchise will be left to twist slowly in the wind for the 2002 season, and will then either be "contracted" out of existence or -- under the right conditions -- will be sold to Washington, D.C. area interests. Thus, there probably will be baseball in Our Nation's Capital next year unless the owners figure out how to carry out contraction of the Expos and Twins. That depends in part on the players' union, who seem amenable to dealing with balance issues, but reject arbitrary salary caps. Because of the Virginia state budget crisis, public funding for a No. Va. stadium is not likely, which raises hopes of the D.C. ownership group led by Fred Malek. There is no earthly reason why baseball could not have relocated to Washington this spring, but there are complex intrigues behind the scenes, involving extortion of municipal budgets to subsidize new stadiums, as well as labor negotiations with the players' association. Good grief...
The $660 million sale was part of a weird game of musical chairs among the tight club of baseball owners, and most expect Henry to sell the . Neither Miami nor Montreal have a strong enough fan base to support a team, and the city governments are leery of subsidizing a new stadium. After years of foot dragging, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig now says that Washington is a "prime candidate" for a relocated franchise, though he plays down the likelihood of a change until the 2003 season. Both the D.C.-based and Northern Virginia-based prospective baseball ownership groups (led by Fred Malek and William Collins, respectively) are aggressively pursuing the opportunity. Orioles' owner Peter Angelos would probably demand a bigger payoff if the team makes a home on the north side of the Potomac, which would presumably cut more deeply into "his" Maryland fan base. The people who run RFK Stadium (now just used for soccer matches and pop music concerts) say they need 4 to 6 weeks to get the place ready for Major League ball. I saw an exhibition game there between the Cardinals and Expos in 1999, and it would probably be a satisfactory venue for a couple years pending construction of a permanent home, wherever that might be. Personally, I favor a site along Arlington Ridge, close to the Iwo Jima monument, because the scenery and symbolism is unequalled. As for the "contraction" scare, a judge in Minnesota put an injunction on any quick dissolution of the Twins, so that franchise and the other two troubled ones may live to play ball another day.
The Houston Astros recently paid creditors of the bankrupt Enron Corporation $2.1 million to nullify the contract by which Enron held rights to the name of the Astros' new stadium. For the time being, the "Field Formerly Known as Enron" will be called "Astros Field," but some other corporation will presumably bid for the naming rights in the near future.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig vowed there will be no owner-induced work stoppages this season, which simply means that the impending head-on collision between owners and playes will be delayed until next year. Forbes magazine recently published a financial analysis of major league franchises, concluding that most teams' official profit and loss figures grossly overstated expenses and understated revenues in many cases. Sounds a lot like the phony accounting used by Hollywood to avoid paying taxes. Details to follow...
[Stadium page hyperlinks]
NOTE: As a new feature, each stadium page now contains (or will soon contain) hyperlinks to the respective teams' previous and subsquent home ballparks at the bottom of the page. That will let you more easily browse through each team's own history. Since this web site is still under construction, however, some of these links are not yet active. The current plan is to finish two new stadium pages (with diagrams) per week, depending on degree of difficulty, etc. From now on I will proceed in strict chronological order, beginning with those concrete and steel stadiums that were in use since the early years of the 20th century. This excludes a few wooden stadiums such as Highland Park in New York, as these were never really permanent enough to merit much historical attention.