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Saturday, March 23
Stadium only worry for commissioner Selig

Associated Press

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- While assuring Kansas City that the Royals are in no danger of contraction, baseball commissioner Bud Selig warned that improvements to Kauffman Stadium "have to be addressed."

In an informal meeting with reporters Saturday, Selig stopped short of saying that a proposed $125 million in stadium improvements are necessary for owner David Glass to keep the franchise in Kansas City.

"I'm going to let David make that observation," Selig said. "But there is no question that the stadium issue has to be addressed for Kansas City to keep up with Detroit and the clubs in their own division.

"I'm sure it will all be worked out. But they are going to have to be worked out. If your stadium does not produce enough revenue, you're at an immediate disadvantage."

As for contraction, Selig said there is, "no truth -- absolutely none" to occasional reports that the Royals are on a short list.

Major league baseball tried to eliminate the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos this year but gave up after running into legal roadblocks.

"There hasn't been any discussion about Kansas City relative to contraction at all," Selig said. "Frankly, I have read a little bit here and there. It's just not true."

The Royals, with declining revenues and dwindling attendance, are usually listed among small-market clubs whose future could be cloudy without revenue-sharing and other innovations to close the financial gap with richer clubs.

"Mr. Glass and I have never had any conversation on (contracting the Royals)," Selig said. "When I listed the candidates we have widely discussed, I can assure you Kansas City was not one of them. It is a very solid franchise with very good ownership.

"Obviously, we need to solve some of the global economic problems in the industry. And clearly, the stadium issue is going to have to be addressed there."

Voters on both sides of the Missouri-Kansas line in the Kansas City area will vote in November on a special tax to go toward improvements for Kauffman Stadium and football's Arrowhead Stadium. In addition, the Missouri state legislature is wrangling over a partial funding of the stadium improvements in both St. Louis and Kansas City.

The state funding, which would provide about $50 million, will be settled by late May, team president Dan Glass said.

The tax would be used to raise about another $75 million.

"The Kansas City stadium is a lovely ballpark," Selig said. "It needs to be upgraded if we want to keep Kansas City a competitive franchise, which we certainly do."

Kauffman Stadium, opened 23 years ago, has fallen behind newer parks as a revenue-producer. The Glass family has tied the stadium improvement issue to an extension of their lease through 2027.

The stadium funding proposal has run into stiff opposition in the state legislature.

"I want to be optimistic," said Dan Glass. "It's important to us. But I can't say I'm optimistic. I'm cautiously optimistic."

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