Marlins explore Norfolk as potential ballpark site
MIAMI -- Add Norfolk, Va., to the list of cities being explored by the Florida Marlins for a potential move.
Team president David Samson said Friday he met with representatives of Norfolk to discuss their proposal for a new ballpark.
"We talked about a financing plan they had in mind that would require a very small contribution by the team," Samson said. "We told them our preference is to stay in Florida, but we have no deal in Florida. We agreed that we will stay in touch."
Marlins officials earlier visited San Antonio and Portland, Ore.
Meeting on Thursday in Miami with team officials were Norfolk businessman Will Somerindyke Jr., who headed a group that tried unsuccessfully to lure the Montreal Expos to Virginia, and lawyer Jack Kane. Norfolk's prospects for landing a team could be hurt by its proximity to Washington, D.C., where the Expos relocated last year.
Somerindyke and Samson said they discussed the southeast Virginia market.
"We told them if they're interested in Norfolk, they need to contact the city," Somerindyke said. "We're just here because I think the town I grew up in should have a major league team."
The issue of how to pay for a new ballpark has stalled talks in South Florida, but Samson said he plans to meet again next week with Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess.
"There is a definite sense of urgency on everybody's part that has not existed before,'' Samson said.
Major League Baseball last year granted the team permission to explore relocation. The Marlins' lease at Dolphins Stadium ends in 2007, but they could stay there through 2010 using a series of one-year options.
Two sites in Hialeah are the latest possibilities being discussed for a new ballpark in South Florida, but a large funding gap remains for a project expected to cost more than $400 million.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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