Oklahoma Lt. Gov. talks with Marlins officials

Updated: February 16, 2006, 3:39 PM ET
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin said Thursday she has had several talks with Florida Marlins' officials about the possibility of moving the Major League Baseball team to Oklahoma City.

"It's all very preliminary, but I have received some good feedback from the Marlins," Fallin said Thursday.

Marlins owner Jeff Loria once owned the old Oklahoma City 89ers Triple-A team, now the Oklahoma RedHawks of the Pacific Coast League.

Fallin said she wrote to Marlins president David Samson last November after seeing reports that the team was considering leaving the Miami area. The Marlins have not been able to strike a deal for a new ballpark in South Florida.

Samson declined to talk about any discussions with Oklahoma City.

"I'm not going to comment," he said. "We have been contacted by many cities, and we have not really commented until if and when we visit."

This offseason Marlins officials have visited San Antonio and Portland, Ore., and Samson met last week in Miami with representatives of Norfolk, Va.

Fallin said she has spoken by telephone several times to Marlins vice chairman Joel Mael and sent Marlins officials a packet of economic development and demographic information about central Oklahoma.

"The Marlins have asked for some more detailed information, and we are working to put that together for them," she said. "I will be bringing Chamber of Commerce and local and state government leaders together very soon to begin that process.

"Obviously, one strong sales point has been the tremendous success of the NBA Hornets in Oklahoma City this season. We are suddenly on the map for big league sports."

She said she had a meeting tentatively scheduled for next Tuesday with Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce officials, corporate leaders and others to discuss the idea and what can be done to lure the Marlins to Oklahoma.

She said Marlins officials will need to get permission from Major League Baseball to visit the city.

She said Mael was impressed by the changes in Oklahoma City since the early 1990s, when Loria owned the team, including the development of the Bricktown entertainment district, construction of a river canal and other attractions.

Fallin said Oklahoma and Oklahoma City had demonstrated they are great sports venues and every effort should be made to bring the Marlins to the state.

"It will certainly help us down the road, if this doesn't work out, to be on the radar of another major league sport," she said.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press