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Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Loria renews threat to move Marlins

Associated Press

MIAMI -- Standing in the corner of the Florida Marlins' clubhouse an hour before their home opener Tuesday, owner Jeffrey Loria renewed his threat to move the team.

Loria said the Marlins will find another home if they're unable to swing a deal soon for a new ballpark in South Florida. And he acknowledged that talks with local officials remain at a standstill.

"I'm optimistic and hopeful that a new stadium will materialize," Loria said. "I'm basically an optimistic person. But some of that optimism disappeared in the last year."

Talks regarding a stadium adjacent to the Orange Bowl collapsed last spring, and Loria received permission from the commissioner's office in November to investigate relocation. He has talked with San Antonio officials about moving the team there.

"San Antonio is a very viable market, and they're very serious," Loria said. "Read my lips -- they're serious."

The prospect of a move to San Antonio has failed to revive negotiations with South Florida officials, Loria said.

"I'm hoping we can get this thing moved along," he said. "I'm hoping to re-energize the mayor and the city managers. We all have to get together to make this thing happen -- everybody who wants to save baseball in South Florida."

Because the Miami area has a much larger population than San Antonio and is a bigger TV market, it's uncertain whether Major League Baseball officials would permit a move there.

"They would like us to solve our problem here," Loria said, "but that doesn't mean it's solvable."

The Marlins have been seeking a new ballpark since their first season in 1993. After finishing last in the NL in attendance in 2005 despite a winning season, the Marlins reduced their payroll by 73 percent to the lowest in the majors, and ticket sales this season are the worst yet for the franchise.

The team will remain in its current home through next season at least, but Loria has said the Marlins must find a new place to play by 2011. And Loria said he wants a decision regarding their future in South Florida well before the end of this season.

"I need resolution, because there are other options," he said. "We need to act on those options -- out of town."