City hopes $340M finance plan will lure Expos

Updated: May 14, 2004, 9:19 PM ET
Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Hoping to attract a major league baseball team, city officials have outlined a finance plan that would provide $340 million toward a new ballpark.

Portland is one of several areas vying to become the new home of the Montreal Expos. League owners could narrow the list when they meet next week in New York.

The finance plan nearly meets the projected $350 million cost of a new ballpark. Baseball officials have said they want financing for a new stadium in place before deciding where to relocate the team.

``We have a clear path to achieving $340 million at this point, so we're every close to reaching the total financing goal,'' city facilities manager David Logsdon told The Associated Press.

The financially troubled Expos were purchased by the 29 other teams before the 2002 season. The team is splitting their schedule between Montreal and San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the second consecutive year in order to ease the club's debt.

Washington D.C.; Las Vegas; Monterrey, Mexico; Norfolk, Va.; Northern Virginia and San Juan are all possible relocation candidates. The latest deadline for a decision is the All-Star break in July, but league officials have missed similar deadlines in the past.

Washington D.C. appeared to become the front-runner when Mayor Anthony Williams came forward with a plan for a ballpark fully funded by taxpayers.

Earlier this month, Williams and other city officials met with three owners -- Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox, Tom Hicks of the Texas Rangers and Wendy Selig-Prieb of the Milwaukee Brewers -- as well as members of the relocation committee.

Portland's outline of its financing plan could help it move up the list of candidates.

"We want them to know we're still working on it and making progress," Logsdon said.

Portland's ballpark would receive its biggest contribution -- $125 million -- from team income taxes.

Legislation was approved last year that would allow the income taxes from players and other team personnel to be diverted to a fund to pay off bonds used to build the stadium.

Other sources of financing include a ticket tax, concessions and merchandise tax, and revenue from growth near the stadium, as well as things like charter seat licenses.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press