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REACTIONS FROM TAMPA BAY AND OTHER SPORTS FIGURES

Was I surprised? No. I'd have been surprised if it had been any other way. I don't know. I really don't. Baseball always said they liked one person over a whole lot of people, but that flies in the face of the Denver group. It could have been that.

I wouldn't speculate on the location of the stadium. That could have been one of the factors. We certainly all had a difference of opinion on both sides of the bay on the stadium issue.

My time for baseball is over. It's a very remote chance that I would bother to be included again.

I don't happen to think relocation is doable in the near term. It's hard to justify leaving an existing city. In the near term, it's a remote possibility.

Frank Morsani, former leader of Tampa Bay Baseball Group

I'm disappointed for the Tampa Bay community, although I don't think the expansion committee had much of a choice when the main out-of-town investors with the Porter group, the Kohl brothers _ which the expansion committee chose in the first place _ reduced their commitment at the last minute.

I'm not going to cry. What's difficult to accept is that the committee selected this group over two other viable, local groups. They (Porter/Schur) used out-of-town investors. They didn't have the local community ties that the other groups had. If the Kohls had stayed, it might have been different.

I feel a lot of sympathy for the city officials, particularly former mayor Bob Ulrich, Bob Stewart, Mayor David Fischer, Rick Dodge and his staff, who I know worked tirelessly on this project.

But let's be positive. My suggestion is that we should aggressively go after another major-league team for the Suncoast Dome. St. Petersburg is now the No. 1 choice for relocation. Baseball is changing and even though some owners and the commissioner are opposed to moves, the reality of the situation is that there are five or more teams for sale. We should have a good possibility of luring them, either with current ownership or a buyout. There's a good chance a move is going to be approved.

Thomas Hammons, Sarasota businessman and former leader of ownership group

I felt rather disappointed, because St. Pete could have used a team. With the different high schools that are in the area, there could have been a really good farm system right here. It would have given a lot of people in Florida a chance to be seen. I thought for sure it would be St. Pete.

Charles Gooden, older brother of Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden

There isn't much I can say I'm disappointed, like very many other people. I really felt the last couple of years that St. Pete would get a team. The thought of managing the team didn't cross my mind whatsoever. I was rooting for a team in St. Pete while I was with the Cubs.

Don Zimmer

I thought Denver was for sure in the beginning, and I thought Tampa-St. Pete would get the other one. But then Miami had that showing in those spring-training exhibition games, with the large crowds they had down there, and I think things kind of shifted a bit. And I think that one-man ownership is another thing that has a lot to do with it. That's certainly in Miami's favor, and it helped them a lot.

They keep talking about moving a franchise here, but I think that would be a real difficult thing. I wish it was true, but I don't know if it can happen.

Take Chicago. It looked like Chicago was going to move here, and all of a sudden people realized they were going to lose a franchise. Then the governor gets involved, and they end up building them a new stadium. I think that's the kind of thing that wakes up a community.

Hall of Famer Al Lopez of Tampa, a former major-league catcher who managed World Series teams in Cleveland and Chicago

It's not what I expected. I certainly did expect Tampa-St. Pete to be No. 1 or No. 2, and I still think, as a potential site, we should be No. 1 or No. 2.

When you weigh all the facts, I just don't see how we couldn't come up in the top two.

I've got to think there's still a chance, whether it be by expansion or by moving an existing franchise. They're probably both still fairly equally possible, but the expansion vote by the owners comes first. And then if we're still turned down, we should go to Plan B immediately.

Jim Neader, agent for Dwight Gooden

"We did everything that we could. I thought we ran a fine race and we have nothing to be ashamed about. There isn't anything else we could have done. To have a team move here would be our only course of action. Moving one to Orlando is the only way for us at this point."

Pat Williams, who headed the Orlando group

"Obviously, I am disappointed that the nation's capital was not selected for a major league baseball team. Everyone involved in this effort, including the thousands of fans who bought season tickets, worked very diligently to make baseball a reality in Washington, D.C.

"However, one strike doesn't mean we are out. In the coming months, I will work with investors and other baseball boosters to pursue teams for sale in order to bring baseball to Washington, D.C."

Washington Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon

"I'm a free-trader and I've always felt that the market will dictate (actions). If a team is for sale then so be it."

Robert E. Rich Jr., the millionaire businessman who would have owned Buffalo's expansion team

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