This is one in a series of updates as the National League expansion decision nears. The vote is expected June 12. Not everyone in the Miami area would like to see a National League expansion team in South Florida. A group of residents in four predominantly black neighborhoods around Joe Robbie Stadium has written a letter to NL president Bill White complaining that 81 more home dates at the stadium would mean "unbearable noise and traffic conditions for us one of every three days in the year."
The residents, who have been fighting the stadium in court for seven years, say they already suffer because of parking overflow during Dolphins games and from planes and helicopters that fly overhead for each event.
The timing of the letter "certainly has something to do with the fact that we would love to see the baseball team go to St. Petersburg," said Betty Ferguson, spokesperson for North Dade Homeowners United. She said the letter to White was the third sent to baseball officials in connection with the expansion decision.
The group represents about 6,000 homeowners near the stadium, Ferguson said.
The letter to White also complains that black families in Miami have been uprooted since 1947 at the whim of white developers and public officials. White is the first black president of the NL.
Ferguson discounted claims that the stadium has generated jobs for black residents. "That has always been a sham," she said.
Vincent: Ownership the key
If there was any doubt how much the ownership groups factored into the expansion equation, commissioner Fay Vincent eliminated that Monday with these comments to the Associated Press:
"The public tends to think of it as a city competing with a city," Vincent said, "when in fact it's an ownership group within a city competing with an ownership group within another city."
In search of other teams
For the cities left out of the expansion race, the next move may be to go after an existing team, but that may not be too easy, according to Bill Giles, a member of the NL expansion committee.
"I look for baseball's leaders, including the commissioner and two league presidents, to maintain a stance of not wanting any franchise to move," Giles said. "However, these are challenging financial times for all franchises.
"If a team owner makes a strong case, and proves there's great difficulty in making a go of it, I would imagine he or she might find some understanding ears among those who operate the other 25 franchises. You hear rumbling about Seattle, and also that Houston has problems. Montreal? I understand a new ownership situation is close to happening for the Expos.
"In my view, Cleveland's franchise would have a justifiable case to talk about a move to another city if a new stadium doesn't become reality. The Indians' ballpark is a huge problem, and a new stadium is the only real cure. Question is, will Cleveland build one, or will the Indians have to look elsewhere?"
_ Compiled from reports by staff writers Thomas C. Tobin, Marc Topkin and Hubert Mizell.