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Marlins prez visits San Antonio in search of home

SAN ANTONIO -- The head of the Florida Marlins visited San
Antonio on Tuesday as part of a preliminary search for a possible
new home for the National League team.

Marlins president David Samson said San Antonio was the first
stop on a tour that will last three to five months.

"We're not a free-agent pitcher. We're a team looking for a
right fit," said Samson.

The Marlins have struggled to attract large crowds at Dolphins Stadium, home of Miami's NFL team, since their inception in 1993.
They can leave after their lease expires in 2007.

After previous owner Wayne Huizenga boosted payroll, the Marlins
won the 1997 World Series. But poor attendance that season led to a
roster purge, and the depleted Marlins finished last in 1998.

The Marlins, two years removed from another World Series title,
are getting rid of high-priced players again this offseason. They
recently abandoned plans to build a stadium in downtown Miami.

Major League Baseball has given the Marlins permission to
explore relocation.

Samson was escorted by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger.

"We don't know where it all might lead, but it's a start,"
said Wolff.

San Antonio is the interim home for the Hurricane
Katrina-displaced Saints. The NFL team faces questions about
returning to New Orleans, but commissioner Paul Tagliabue said
Monday he thinks the Saints will play some games in New Orleans
next season.

"It's only one indication of how San Antonio is moving forward
on all fronts, that the Marlins are even here talking to us,"
Hardberger said.

Samson also is expected to visit Las Vegas, Portland, Oregon and
other cities he didn't disclose.

San Antonio is home to the Double-A Missions of the Texas
League.

The Missions, affiliated with the Seattle Mariners, play at
Wolff Stadium, which is named for the county judge and ex-mayor.