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NL president: San Francisco must present stadium plan

The San Francisco group working to save the Giants not only must present a competitive purchase offer but also must have plans to build a new stadium and working capital to finance team operations, National League president Bill White said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, he said, baseball officials plan to step up their analysis of Tampa Bay's $115-million offer in preparation for a comparison of the two bids. White also praised Tampa Bay's investors and the community itself for its patience.

In an interview with the St. Petersburg Times, White said he expects San Francisco's prospective investors to make an offer Friday in Pittsburgh. White will be there for Game 3 of the National League playoffs.

"There's a big day coming this week," White said. "We'll know a little more about what's happening with the people in San Francisco."

San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan told reporters at a news briefing there Tuesday that a small delegation of investors will present their bid to White on Friday. Jordan has indicated the San Francisco bid will be lower than Tampa Bay's. Speculation in San Francisco has pegged the bid at about $95-million.

"Whether it will be acceptable or the way we want it to be, I don't know," White said of San Francisco's bid.

A final decision on where the Giants will play next year could be resolved "within a week or so, I would think," White said.

White said there is no set figure the San Francisco group must meet when submitting its offer.

"It has to be competitive," he said. "They have to worry about building a stadium and they have to show working capital."

San Francisco area voters have rejected four different proposals to use tax money to build a new stadium. Jordan has talked for the past two months about building a privately financed stadium downtown at a cost of about $150-million, but no definitive plans and no financing have surfaced.

Operating expenses for a major-league team are about $25-million a year plus payroll, which can be another $30-million or so. The Giants spent about $60-million on expenses this season.

Tampa Bay group leader Vince Naimoli had little reaction to the news that San Francisco would finally submit its bid.

"Oh, is that the latest?," Naimoli said from his Tampa home Tuesday night. "They can do what they want to do."

Naimoli has twice hinted he might withdraw his bid. Asked Tuesday what the latest timetable does to his plans, Naimoli said, "We'll have to see what happens. . . . The wheels of progress are grinding very slowly."

White, in Atlanta for the first two games of the National League playoffs, has been a central figure in the Giants' pending sale since he stepped to a podium in St. Louis on Sept. 9. That was the day he said he would allow a San Francisco group to make a "competitive" offer to keep the team. Since then, White has been criticized in the Tampa Bay area for interfering with the deal to move the team to the Florida Suncoast Dome.

But White said Tuesday he has been operating out of fairness to all parties and has no hidden agenda. He also praised the Tampa Bay area and Naimoli for their patience.

"We're walking a thin line," White said. "We're trying to be fair to the people in San Francisco, to (current Giants owner) Bob Lurie, to the Naimoli group. Naimoli has shown a great amount of patience and restraint."

As for his own role, White said he only has tried to make sure the process is handled fairly.

"There's no other reason," White said. "I have no connections at all with San Francisco. We're doing the best we can to be fair. I know what I'm doing is in the best interests of baseball. We're giving the people of San Francisco a chance to keep their team. If not, we have an alternative. Fortunately, we have an alternative."

Since Naimoli's deal to buy the team was announced Aug. 7, various San Francisco officials have promised a counteroffer would be coming soon. White gave them the formal opportunity Sept. 9 and has since issued two warnings that time was running short, but as of Tuesday the group had still not produced.

North Carolina millionaire George Shinn, said to be the group's lead investor, went to San Francisco for a meeting Monday with his partners. An official said only they were "making progress."

Reports in the San Francisco media indicated the group is slowed by internal debate over what price to offer for the team and who should lead the group.

White's disclosure that the offer will have to be a package that includes money to run the team and plans for replacing Candlestick Park could explain the delays.

White's comments also could be the first indication of what White told San Francisco investors in their meeting last Wednesday in San Francisco. At the time White told reporters: "I think (San Francisco millionaire) Walter Shorenstein and the San Francisco group understood what baseball wants."

Talking with the Times on Tuesday, White said that the Tampa Bay group must also show a similar financial package and that baseball officials would now study that proposal.

"We've decided to move forward and take a closer look at what the people in Tampa have," White said. "We're going to look at the people in Tampa closer.

"It's time to start getting those people on track. The pro formas, we've read them. Now it's time to get into them."

Naimoli said he has not been asked to provide any further information on the Tampa Bay offer.

White said several times during the interview that baseball officials are traversing a "thin wire" in dealing with legal issues and in trying to be fair to both cities. Lawsuits are likely from the city that loses this high-stakes game.

The chase for the Giants now appears headed to its conclusion. "I think it's time for both bids to be out there and be sure they are handled properly," White said. The whole matter may be wrapped up before the Oct. 17 start of the World Series.

After the San Francisco group makes its offer and baseball officials complete their analysis of the Tampa Bay bid, White said, "the Executive Council and baseball will make a decision."