Owner seeks to relocate Marlins

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thwarted in his atttempts to get a new stadium built, owner Jeffrey Loria is looking to move out of Miami.

MIAMI -- The Florida Marlins will look into relocation as early as the 2008 season, after years of unsuccessful attempts to secure a baseball-only stadium in downtown Miami.

Marlins president David Samson said Tuesday the team has received permission from the commissioner's office to investigate its options in other cities. Samson added owner Jeffrey Loria's primary intention is to keep the team in South Florida, but added that no deal will be struck for a ballpark in Miami.

Las Vegas and Portland, Ore., which both failed to land the Montreal Expos before that franchise moved to Washington a year ago, are likely to try to lure the Marlins. Samson said another possibility is building on land near Dolphins Stadium and owned by the franchise's original owner, H. Wayne Huizenga.

"No longer can baseball in South Florida be assured," Loria said in a statement read by Samson. "It is now clear to us that there will be no baseball stadium in the city of Miami. So we must begin to explore other options. Therefore, we will expand our search beyond the city of Miami."

Loria was in Europe and unavailable for further comment.

The Marlins' lease with Dolphins Stadium -- owned by Huizenga -- is in effect until 2007. The team has a series of one-year options that could keep it there through the 2010 season.

Meanwhile, the Marlins appeared to have begun paring payroll. The Red Sox and Marlins reached a preliminary agreement Monday night on a trade that would send pitcher Josh Beckett -- the MVP of Florida's 2003 World Series championship -- and third baseman Mike Lowell to Boston for three prospects. The trade wasn't finalized because physicals were pending, according to a baseball official who requested anonymity.

The 25-year-old Beckett, eligible for salary arbitration, is expected to earn between $4 million and $5 million next year and can become a free agent after the 2007 season. Lowell, 31, is owed $9 million each of the next two seasons.

Samson did not specify how much the Marlins planned to slice from payroll for 2006.

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