<
>

San Antonio to pitch stadium plan to Marlins

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Bexar County's top official said he will
present a stadium-financing plan to the Florida Marlins in an
effort to lure the team to South Texas.

County Judge Nelson Wolff said the plan involves using public
and private funding to raise the estimated $300 million it would
take to build a stadium.

"We look forward to discussing this plan with Judge Wolff,"
Marlins president David Samson said in Friday's editions of the San
Antonio Express-News. "It's the first step of a long, interesting
process to see if there is a match."

Already in weekly communication with the Marlins, Wolff said he
would attempt to put the proposal on the November ballot if
negotiations with the team pick up speed.

Wolff's proposal follows the same plan used to build the AT&T
Center for the San Antonio Spurs, which opened in 2002 at a cost of
$189 million.

Voters in 1999 approved increases in the hotel-occupancy and
car-rental taxes to finance the county's $146.5 million share. The
Spurs provided the rest of the funding, including $41 million from
the arena's naming rights.

Wolff said voter approval would be needed to refinance the
bonds, pay off the AT&T Center debt early and use new bonds to pay
for a baseball stadium. The plan would not incorporate sales or
property tax, he said.

The Marlins would choose the site for a stadium.

Samson visited San Antonio in December as part of a preliminary
search for a possible new home for the team. The Marlins have
struggled to attract large crowds at Dolphins Stadium, home of
Miami's NFL team, since their inception in 1993. Talks for a new
stadium in South Florida have stalled.

The Marlins' lease at Dolphins Stadium expires in 2007. Marlins
officials said they've also visited Portland, Ore., and talked with
officials from Norfolk, Va.