Marlins, Norfolk, Va., talk new ballpark proposal

MIAMI -- Add Norfolk, Va., to the list of cities being explored by the Florida Marlins for a potential move.

Team president David Samson said Friday he met with representatives of Norfolk to discuss their proposal for a new ballpark.

"We talked about a financing plan they had in mind that would
require a very small contribution by the team," Samson said. "We
told them our preference is to stay in Florida, but we have no deal
in Florida. We agreed that we will stay in touch."

Marlins officials earlier visited San Antonio and Portland, Ore.

Meeting on Thursday in Miami with team officials were Norfolk businessman Will Somerindyke Jr., who headed a group that tried
unsuccessfully to lure the Montreal Expos to Virginia, and lawyer
Jack Kane. Norfolk's prospects for landing a team could be hurt by
its proximity to Washington, D.C., where the Expos relocated last

Somerindyke and Samson said they discussed the southeast Virginia market.

"We told them if they're interested in Norfolk, they need to
contact the city," Somerindyke said. "We're just here because I
think the town I grew up in should have a major league team."

The issue of how to pay for a new ballpark has stalled talks in
South Florida, but Samson said he plans to meet again next week
with Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess.

"There is a definite sense of urgency on everybody's part that
has not existed before," Samson said.

Major League Baseball last year granted the team permission to
explore relocation. The Marlins' lease at Dolphins Stadium ends in
2007, but they could stay there through 2010 using a series of
one-year options.

Two sites in Hialeah are the latest possibilities being
discussed for a new ballpark in South Florida, but a large funding
gap remains for a project expected to cost more than $400 million.