Promoter asks for trial season

Updated: April 9, 2004, 9:09 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Puerto Rico wants all 81 Montreal Expos' home games next year.

The promoter who brought 22 games to San Juan last year and again this season made a proposal to the commissioner's office for a trial relocation to the Caribbean island.

Depending on the success of that trial, Antonio Munoz's group would try to buy the Expos, who were bought by the other 29 teams before the 2002 season.

"We have an offer on the table to operate all 81 home games in Puerto Rico with them in a one-year trial," Munoz said Friday before the Expos' first game of the year at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

He said his company, MB Sports, had offered to host all 81 games this season.

Las Vegas; Monterrey, Mexico; Norfolk, Va.; Northern Virginia; Portland, Ore.; and Washington, D.C., also have expressed interest in the Expos.

Washington city officials also have prepared a new plan they say offers Major League Baseball exactly what it has requested -- 100 percent public financing for a new ballpark if the Expos are moved to the nation's capital.

The Washington plan would use RFK Stadium as a temporary home until a new stadium could be built.

Munoz said the San Juan municipal government has committed to renovate Hiram Bithorn Stadium or build a new ballpark to meet major league standards if his offer is accepted.

The stadium was overhauled for the 2004 series with a new artificial turf, scoreboard, bleachers and a bigger home team clubhouse. Its capacity is 20,000.

If the offer is not accepted and the team is relocated elsewhere, Munoz said he still would be interested in attracting other major league teams with attendance problems. He mentioned Florida, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay as teams that had expressed interest in playing in San Juan.

"If the Expos move to another place, we would be talking to other teams to bring 20, 22 or 40 games," he said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press