City hopes $340M finance plan will lure Expos

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Hoping to attract a major league baseball
team, city officials have outlined a finance plan that would
provide $340 million toward a new ballpark.

Portland is one of several areas vying to become the new home of
the Montreal Expos. League owners could narrow the list when they
meet next week in New York.

The finance plan nearly meets the projected $350 million cost of
a new ballpark. Baseball officials have said they want financing
for a new stadium in place before deciding where to relocate the

``We have a clear path to achieving $340 million at this point, so we're every close to reaching the total financing goal,'' city facilities manager David Logsdon told The Associated Press.

The financially troubled Expos were purchased by the 29 other
teams before the 2002 season. The team is splitting their schedule
between Montreal and San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the second
consecutive year in order to ease the club's debt.

Washington D.C.; Las Vegas; Monterrey, Mexico; Norfolk, Va.;
Northern Virginia and San Juan are all possible relocation
candidates. The latest deadline for a decision is the All-Star
break in July, but league officials have missed similar deadlines
in the past.

Washington D.C. appeared to become the front-runner when Mayor
Anthony Williams came forward with a plan for a ballpark fully
funded by taxpayers.

Earlier this month, Williams and other city officials met with
three owners -- Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox, Tom Hicks
of the Texas Rangers and Wendy Selig-Prieb of the Milwaukee Brewers
-- as well as members of the relocation committee.

Portland's outline of its financing plan could help it move up
the list of candidates.

"We want them to know we're still working on it and making
progress," Logsdon said.

Portland's ballpark would receive its biggest contribution --
$125 million -- from team income taxes.

Legislation was approved last year that would allow the income
taxes from players and other team personnel to be diverted to a
fund to pay off bonds used to build the stadium.

Other sources of financing include a ticket tax, concessions and
merchandise tax, and revenue from growth near the stadium, as well
as things like charter seat licenses.