Loria: Marlins' talks about San Antonio move 'serious'
HOUSTON -- Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said Sunday that discussions with San Antonio officials about the possibility of relocating the team there are serious.
San Antonio has been trying to lure the team and county officials have offered to put up $200 million toward an estimated $300 million ballpark if voters approve extending a tax on hotel and car rentals.
The Marlins slashed their payroll to about $15 million in the offseason because of poor attendance and no progress in Loria's bid for a baseball-specific stadium. Florida plays at Dolphins Stadium, home of Miami's NFL team.
"We're still looking at all our options, but our talks in San Antonio are serious," Loria said on Sunday at Minute Maid Park before addressing his team.
Loria said several officials from San Antonio would join him on Monday when the Marlins open the season against the Houston Astros.
"I've invited them to join us to learn more about San Antonio," he said.
He remained evasive when asked whether he has any hope the Marlins can remain in South Florida, but said no negotiations are ongoing there.
"I really don't know how to answer that," he said. "I can only tell you at this moment that there's nothing going on in South Florida."
Loria doesn't think the relocation issue will be a distraction to his team this season.
"That will get settled one way or another," he said.
Loria has repeatedly said that the Marlins' would prefer to remain in South Florida, but he was less adamant about the issue on Sunday. He has said they will not remain in Dolphins Stadium past 2010.
"We're going to look at all options there and we're also going to look at some other cities," he said.
The tax proposal that Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, has offered would ask voters to extend a hotel and car rental tax approved in 1999 by 20 to 30 years to fund the stadium.
The vote could come as early as the November elections.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press