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Oklahoma Lt. Gov. talks with Marlins officials

2/16/2006 - MLB Florida Marlins

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.