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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Will lawmakers create a baseball czar?



Move over Bud Selig, the Florida House is considering whether to create a baseball commissioner. In HB 7111, which is nearing passage, a state baseball commissioner would protect Florida's spring training sites for the ol' ball game. It's part of an economic development package.

Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, said the $100,000-a-year baseball commissioner would be hired to keep and recruit teams to Florida. The Cincinnatti Red and Cleveland Indians plan to relocate to Arizona, and the Baltimore Orioles are weighing whether to stay in Fort Lauderdale.

"if you're going to leave one city in Florida, then we'd rather you went to another city in Florida than another state or country," said Cannon, who spearheaded the bill after discussions with other lawmakers and state economic development officials.

One problem: the Senate passed its version (SB 2778) without playing ball. Sen. Mike Fasano, chairman of economic development appropriations, told Cannon this week that he's willing to consider working in the commissioner job. But he's got questions as session nears its May 2 end. (more)

Jim_palmer_autograph_2  "I'm hesistant to create a baseball commissioner," Fasano said today. "I've not ben convinced yet that we need one. They may convince me, but at $100,000 a year? To me, there are people in the state with the expertise, skills and know-how to do the job for free."

Fasano also said other senators want to make sure the bill -- which tweaks tax refunds available for sites --  doesn't put current sites in a fight against prospective hosts.

Cannon said the job doesn't necessarily have to have a $100,000 annual salary. And he acknowledged this year might not be the time the post is created, though Cannon maintained there's still enough time left.

Fasano, a Mets fan, does have an idea for the guy for the job, though: former Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer.

"He's very active and very helpful in working and keeping our Grapefruit League alive and well," Fasano said.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:53am]


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