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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Arrogance, it appears, by San Antonio officials attempting to, again, play hardball with major leaguers cause the City to lose out on golden opportunity of landing the Marlins. What ashamed for San Antonio..if they had the right leaders, they probably would have had the NFL years ago, and now would be getting the MLB, their third pro team. Looks like it stays one, for now. What gives??

Marlins told to 'fish or cut bait'
Web Posted: 04/18/2006 03:20 PM CDT

Tom Orsborn
Express-News Staff Writer

Two Bexar County officials have decided to play hardball on the subject of securing a second major league sports franchise for San Antonio — one a little harder than the other.

County Judge Nelson Wolff, the local point man in discussions about the possible relocation of Major League Baseball's Florida Marlins to San Antonio, notified Marlins officials in writing Monday he has imposed a May 15 deadline for the team to commit to a plan to move here.

Wolff's letter concluded with a tongue-in-cheek comment to drive home his point, saying "we need to fish or cut bait by May 15."

County Commissioner Lyle Larson went a step further by criticizing how compulsively the city baits the hook. Larson called for an end to what he termed "groveling" by local officials eager to secure a second major-league team for the city.

Larson suggested a more "professional" approach to such discussions.

"All of this groveling cheapens our stature as a community," Larson said. "We need to show more pride."

Larson's comments drew a sharp rebuff from Wolff.

"Nobody's groveling," Wolff said. "Where did he get that (expletive)? What have we groveled about? The Marlins approached us about moving."

Wolff said his decision to set a deadline was based on the need to formulate plans ahead of an Aug. 15 deadline to place a measure on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.

The measure would seek voter approval of an extension of the tourism taxes paying for the AT&T Center, home to the city's only major-league franchise, the NBA Spurs.

Wolff said extending hotel and car-rental taxes could raise as much as $200 million toward a new ballpark. The Marlins, who received the county's stadium-financing offer on March 8, have projected the stadium cost at $310 million and presumably would pick up the rest of the tab.

Asked what happens if the Marlins don't provide an affirmative answer by May 15, Wolff said: "As far as I'm concerned, it's over."

The Marlins declined to comment.

Wolff said setting a deadline is the smart business move.

"I've been in business for a long time and have sold two companies," Wolff said. "I know this game a little. You need to get off the ship or stay on. They need to see if they can get (a stadium deal) in Miami, and this sets a time frame for them to do that. It puts pressure on the Marlins and baseball."

The Marlins need another $100 million in funding and free land to close any stadium deal in Miami-Dade County.

Miami-Dade County manager George Burgess responded to Wolff's deadline by telling the Miami Herald: "I don't care what kind of deadline has been imposed, it's not my deadline."

Wolff's decision to slap a deadline on the Marlins comes as concern grows locally that the team is using San Antonio to gain leverage for a stadium deal in South Florida.

With his comments, Larson appeared to back away from the stance taken by Wolff, Mayor Phil Hardberger and other civic leaders who favor an aggressive approach to the recruitment of another sports franchise.

"We don't need to continue being used to sweeten deals in other communities," Larson said.

Larson said the county and city shouldn't court football or baseball teams until either the NFL or baseball announces expansion plans or formally gives a team permission to relocate.

"We need to be the courtee instead of the courter," Larson said. "We've got it reversed. Teams should be asking us to build facilities, not us offering to build them."

Larson said he will propose at today's meeting of Commissioners Court letters be sent to the NFL and baseball informing the entities San Antonio would like to be considered for relocation or expansion.

"The decision makers are the leagues, not the teams," Larson said. "We should be dealing with the leagues. The teams just work communities against each other."

Larson said the letters should point out the city's feverish support of the Spurs and emphasize economic factors supporting the city's case for a second major-league franchise.

"We shouldn't be the bridesmaids in all these deals because that's a no-win situation for San Antonio," Larson said. "When we pursue these teams, whether it be the (NFL's New Orleans) Saints or the Marlins, and come up short, it diminishes our opportunities because people are thinking, 'There must be something wrong with that community if all these teams decide not to move there.'"

Wolff said he was surprised Larson would take such a position, considering Larson was part of a contingent of city and county officials who accepted an invitation by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria to attend the team's season-opening game in Houston two weeks ago.

"He went over to Houston," Wolff said of Larson. "Was that groveling? If that's groveling, then he's part of the groveling.

"You have to have approval from the league, but you have to deal with the teams. You never know for sure if it's about leverage. That's the risk you take when you talk to a team that's relocating. But if you hang out an invitation sign, you have to put a limit on how long you hang it out."

Wolff's letter, sent to Marlins President David Samson, was copied to Bob DuPuy, president of Major League Baseball.

Wolff said he had a phone conversation with Samson before faxing the letter.

"He understands," Wolff said.

In the two-paragraph letter, Wolff encourages the Marlins to "seize the moment" and commit to a relocation plan. Wolff emphasized "time restraints" in coming to an agreement.

"In order to leave adequate time to reach required agreements, find a suitable stadium location and organize a campaign," Wolff wrote, "we need to fish or cut bait by May 15."

Sports marketing expert Marc Ganis, who has worked with several professional teams on relocation, said he believes the Marlins are negotiating in good faith with the city.

“I say that from some personal knowledge and from the historical perspective of nothing happening in South Florida to get a stadium deal done,” Ganis said.

Ganis said Wolff's deadline probably wouldn't hurt the relationship between Wolff and the Marlins.

“Sometimes deadlines help and sometimes they don’t make much of a difference,” Ganis said. “They rarely hurt, unless they are arbitrary or excessively short. But if you are working in good faith and the deadlines can be extended if progress is being made, they work well.”
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Baseball: Hopes fade in pursuit of Marlins
Web Posted: 04/19/2006 12:00 AM CDT

Tom Orsborn
Express-News Staff Writer

One day after setting a May 15 deadline for the Florida Marlins to accept their offer to help fund a stadium, Bexar County officials expressed pessimism that the team is serious about leaving South Florida for South Texas.

Precinct 3 commissioner Lyle Larson, who this week warned local leaders against "groveling" in pursuit of professional sports teams, said he senses the chances of the Marlins moving here have diminished because neither the Marlins nor Major League Baseball seem inclined to reveal their intentions.

"Two weeks ago after we met with (Marlins owner) Jeffrey Loria in Houston, I put the odds of the Marlins coming here at 30 percent," Larson said. "The odds have diminished even more since then. And I say that based on their public comments and the representations they have made to us."

Larson was part of a contingent of county and city officials the Marlins invited to the team's season opener in Houston on April 3. He said Marlins spokesman P.J. Loyello told him during the game he couldn't imagine "us leaving the South Florida market," although unspecified recent events made it more possible.

Still, Larson said he doubts the team has a real interest in moving here. The final option year of the Marlins' lease agreement at Dolphins Stadium is 2010, and team officials say the club can't remain in Miami-Dade County without a new ballpark.

The Marlins, who need free land and an additional $100 million to close a deal in Florida, continue to hold stadium talks with Miami-Dade officials and cities within that county.

"It definitely looks to me like they are using us to leverage a (stadium) deal in Florida," Larson said. "I say that because I've seen their owner on national TV on two different occasions saying his preference is to stay in South Florida. He's not mentioning us.

"It's like we're a boy who's asked a girl to the prom and she says, 'I'd love to go with you, but I'm waiting on another boy to ask me. If he doesn't accept my offer, then I'll get back to you.' We shouldn't have to sit by the phone like that."

Still, Larson declined to call the matter dead.

"I guess they could move here if there was a perfect storm of events," Larson said. "And the perfect storm would be the Miami community deciding not to help build a stadium, baseball consenting to allow the team to move (from the nation's No. 17 media market to the 37th) and the voters of Bexar County embracing building a new complex for these folks. I don't know if all that's going to happen."

County Judge Nelson Wolff, who is spearheading local efforts to lure the Marlins, didn't dispute Larson's "perfect storm" scenario.

"It's pretty close to that, especially with the time limit facing us," Wolff said. "It would be different if we had more time."

The Marlins declined comment.

Wolff said Marlins president David Samson told him by phone Tuesday he was not pleased to hear of the May 15 date, which Wolff said is necessary because the county faces an Aug. 15 deadline to place a stadium-financing measure on the November ballot.

Wolff told the Marlins on March 8 the county could raise as much as $200 million toward a $310 million ballpark if voters approve an extension of hotel and rental-car taxes paying for the AT&T Center.

"(Samson) said he would prefer not to see (a deadline), but he understood because of our time constraints," Wolff said. "He said he would do everything possible on his end of the deal to try to push it."

But Wolff said he is skeptical baseball shares his sense of urgency.

"Baseball, as we all know, tends to move slow," Wolff said. "That's fine if they want to do that, but we can't do that faced with a November election.

"It's all a little frustrating. ... But I'm still smiling. I'm the eternal optimist. It's like Yogi Berra said, 'It's not over 'till it's over.'"

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County Judge Nelson Wolff’s letter to Marlins President David Samson
Web Posted: 04/17/2006 08:42 PM CDT
San Antonio Express-News

Dear David:

There are only a few moments in the life of a city when political will and leadership are coupled with the financial ability to forge a public-private partnership to build a major sports facility for a relocating team. That moment now exists in San Antonio. It would be in the “best interest of Baseball” for the Marlins to seize this moment.

But as I state in my letter of March 12, there are time restraints. In order to leave adequate time to: reach required agreements, find a suitable stadium location and organize a campaign, we need to fish or cut bait by May 15.

Sincerely yours,

Nelson W. Wolff

CC: Robert A. DuPuy, President & CEO Major League Baseball
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TOSSING THE NET
David King
Web Posted: 04/14/2006 12:00 AM CDT
In response to a recent e-mail, we typed "San Antonio Ravens" at Google.com and clicked "I'm Feeling Lucky" to reveal the homepage for the city's answer to the NFL.

The Ravens are members of the minor-league Gulf Coast Football Association, with teams in Texas and Louisiana playing a winter/spring schedule.

They also are, according to SARavens.com, "San Antonio's second-largest sports franchise," which may come as a surprise to the baseball folks out on U.S. Highway 90, as well as hockey and WNBA crowds at the AT&T Center.

Spurious claims or not, the team has a dedicated group of players, and it's also been more successful than our last pro football team, the briefly San Antonio Saints. On top of that, they play in the great outdoors, at Alamo Stadium.
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And here is what happened in Miami:

Development OK'd for Hialeah land; area potential ballpark site

By Sarah Talalay
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel
April 20, 2006

MIAMI · With the focus of stadium talks now on Hialeah, the city and the Marlins got a boost Wednesday when Miami-Dade County Commissioners agreed to allow development on a swath of land in the western portion of the city.

The property, which includes 1,140 acres between Florida's Turnpike on the west, Northwest 97th Avenue on the east, Northwest 170th Street on the north and Northwest 154th Street on the south, had been located outside the "Urban Development Boundary," meaning building could not occur there. Commissioners voted 12-1 to move the property, which includes an old landfill and is zoned for industrial and office space, into the development boundary.

The Marlins began meeting with Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina in January about the possibility of building a ballpark in the city, and the western site was among the potential locations.

"I've always made it very clear this is one of the steps," Robaina said after the commission's vote, which occurred with no discussion of the Marlins locating there. "This makes it much easier. This gives us another option we're able to bring to the table."

Robaina said discussions with the Marlins and Miami-Dade County officials are ongoing, but no deal has been reached.

The site includes about 500 acres owned by developer Armando Codina, who has been supportive of keeping the Marlins in South Florida, but his plans for an industrial-style park on the site do not include a stadium.

"If Hialeah wants to talk to the Marlins, that's up to them," Codina said. "But that's not the focus of my planning."

Robaina said he would not support raising city taxes or putting a referendum on the ballot. He has maintained that the city would provide the land, if the Marlins and Miami-Dade County put up money for the ballpark. He said Major League Baseball also "needs to step up to the table," and any remaining funding gap would need to be covered by the Marlins.

The Marlins have said they want to remain in South Florida but have been in talks with San Antonio, Texas. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, the San Antonio politician leading the effort to lure the Marlins, issued a May 15 deadline this week for a response to his offer of help to finance a stadium.

Sarah Talalay can be reached at [email protected] or 954-356-4173.



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those letters from San Antonio are hilarious...hadn't heard that proposal that includes moving the Urban Development Boundary in Miami though...that is a promising development though if they want to keep the Marlins in south Florida.
 

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Good for these officials. Sports teams basically hold cities hostage and in turn cities don't get much out of having pro sports teams...at least not to the degree that you'd think, based on how we all seem to drool over the prospect of getting a team.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
nostyle said:
Good for these officials. Sports teams basically hold cities hostage and in turn cities don't get much out of having pro sports teams...at least not to the degree that you'd think, based on how we all seem to drool over the prospect of getting a team.
I disagree...you have to roll out the red carpet and make sure you keep it vaccuumed, the whole time...especially when you are attempting to get an existing team to relocate from another city. I'm disappointed in throwing the ultimatum. These things throw a real wrench in any negotiations and from the sounds of it, it was a good thing for Florida and a bad thing for San Antonio. I was looking forward to seeing more MLB with our next door neighbor. These guys blew it by having the audacity to try and bully this team. You can't do that, unless you really don't want the team. Even if you are being used, the next guy will already know how much you will offer and how far out of the way you will be willing to go for them...
 

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Texas already has two MLB teams...screw that. Let another state have a chance...geez


And you are right..roll out the red carpet. Getting a pro team is a gift! Something that does not come along often. Gives people something to do.
 

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Pro sports teams are overrated. But you guys prove that suckers are born everyday. That's how Billionaire owners manage to get cities to build multi-million dollar arenas...as if it will really make the city that much more attractive in the big picture.

I still applaud these politicians for not just accepting this lame version of corporate welfare.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm not a sucker...I'm a sports fan..and damn proud to be one!
 

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I agree with San Antonio giving them a deadline. Those guys are definately playing that city to get a better deal in South Florida. If they were not, they'd take the San Antonio money and move on. Anyway, I'm sure the city has other priorities that money could be used for instead of subsidizing a billionare.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Maybe, Lakelander, but, my entire point is what about next time? Don't think for a minute that these kinds of reactions by San Antonio officials won't be discussed behind closed doors next time their name comes up with a team considering moving there. Just my opinion...I don't even live there. For all I know, this is the way those in San Antonio prefer to be seen and would rather remain a one team town, than offer inducements such as new stadiums and tax concessions to a potential new team.
 

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Sean in New Orleans said:
I'm not a sucker...I'm a sports fan..and damn proud to be one!
So much so you said and I quote:

"I'm sick of pro sports."

After the Saints and San Antonio began to talk relocation.

Damn proud you are! :runaway:
 

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There's a reason for the deadline:

A) The city doesn't want to keep this up any longer. They're tired of the waiting game.

B) The county needs enough time to put the vote up for November with an August deadline to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Marjorie Fair said:
So much so you said and I quote:

"I'm sick of pro sports."

After the Saints and San Antonio began to talk relocation.

Damn proud you are! :runaway:
HeeHeeHeeHeeHee :cheers:
 

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Sean in New Orleans said:
Maybe, Lakelander, but, my entire point is what about next time? Don't think for a minute that these kinds of reactions by San Antonio officials won't be discussed behind closed doors next time their name comes up with a team considering moving there. Just my opinion...I don't even live there. For all I know, this is the way those in San Antonio prefer to be seen and would rather remain a one team town, than offer inducements such as new stadiums and tax concessions to a potential new team.
That's true. But I have to agree with Wolff's decision about setting that deadline. SA shouldn't have to wait around forever for the Marlins to decide whether or not they're going to leave Miami. The Marlins need to make a decision and stick to it. SA is taking a stand here and not totally bending over backwards for a sports team. They shouldn't have to. No city should.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Mike D said:
That's true. But I have to agree with Wolff's decision about setting that deadline. SA shouldn't have to wait around forever for the Marlins to decide whether or not they're going to leave Miami. The Marlins need to make a decision and stick to it. SA is taking a stand here and not totally bending over backwards for a sports team. They shouldn't have to. No city should.
Hence, the teams will not go to San Antonio. I don't think any city should open up the bank, but, time deadlines with such sensitive matters in relocation of a professional team, are just not a good thing, IMO. With this matter, one thing San Antonio CANNOT say is "We gave it our all." They can say, "We tried and told them they better fish or cut bait."
 

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I don't think they ever intended to go to San Antonio to begin with, so this is, IMO, San Antonio calling their bluff. That's all. San Antonio is standing up and saying "we won't be used in your little games", and I commend San Antonio for it.
 
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