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S.F. offer $32-million short of Tampa Bay's

The San Francisco group trying to buy the Giants wants to keep the team's $12.3-million share of National League expansion fees, making it $32.3-million shy of Tampa Bay's bid.

The difference was thought to be $20-million after the San Francisco group made a $95-million offer for the team Monday. Tampa Bay's offer is for $115-million, but allows current owner Bob Lurie to retain the team's share of expansion money paid by new franchises in Miami and Denver.

San Francisco's desire to keep the expansion money was confirmed Tuesday night by two major-league owners and a baseball executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Walter Shorenstein, a San Francisco real estate developer who helped pull the deal together, acknowledged Tuesday that Lurie would be asked to make some contribution.

"Whatever Lurie is asked to do is minimal compared to the overall process," Shorenstein said.

There were also indications that the San Francisco group would seek to have Lurie provide a $10-million loan as part of the $95-million offer, similar to the deal he struck with Tampa Bay.

In other developments Tuesday:

It was disclosed that a conference call is scheduled today to discuss setting a face-to-face meeting of owners Oct. 26 to settle the Giants question. J. Rex Farrior, a member of the Tampa Bay group vying for the team, said members of baseball's new Executive Council would be pushing on Lurie's behalf to "set a meeting, and set it as soon as possible."

Two owners with markedly different views on the decision shared their opinions, foreshadowing what could be a lively internal debate in the coming weeks. Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley said the San Francisco offer "is very encouraging" for that city. And Bill Giles, owner of the Philadelphia Phillies, said he is prepared to vote for a Giants move to Tampa Bay.

Peter Magowan, the leader of the San Francisco group, acknowledged the team would be more profitable in Tampa Bay than in California _ to the tune of $15-million a year. "We've never denied that," he said.

It was revealed the two offers will not be compared side-by-side by all 28 Major League Baseball owners. Instead, the Ownership Committee and Executive Council will discuss the bids and recommend one of the offers for approval, according to the procedure outlined Tuesday by Deputy Commissioner Steve Greenberg.

There was little surprise in the statements by O'Malley and Giles. O'Malley wants to retain the team in California because of the long-standing rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants. Giles has long been a friend of Tampa Bay's baseball effort.

"The news that an all-San Francisco group has made a bona fide offer to buy the Giants is very encouraging," O'Malley said in a statement. "I know some of the individuals in the group and they are all first-class citizens. The picture for the Giants remaining in San Francisco is much brighter today."

Meanwhile, Giles said he remained in favor of the move. "I think Tampa Bay should get the team, but I'm only one voice and I'm not in the inner circle," Giles said.

St. Petersburg also weighed in with a confident statement from City Hall on Tuesday. "The indications that I'm getting today, and strong indications from owners in baseball, is strong support for the approval of the relocation and for having that happen as quickly as possible," Assistant City Manager Rick Dodge said.

At the same time in San Francisco, Magowan said the Giants would "start out with a million more attendance" at the Florida Suncoast Dome than at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

All told, the Tampa Bay Giants probably would "operate on $15-million more" each year in revenue than the San Francisco Giants, Magowan said.

As for the decision-making process, National League president Bill White said baseball's Executive Council will make the decision between the offers.

"The Executive Council will look at both bids and decide where baseball wants to go," White told CBS-TV during Tuesday's Pittsburgh-Atlanta playoff game.

"Obviously you'd rather keep a team in a city where it presently is. Baseball can't keep moving around. But if there isn't a new stadium and it's not a proper, competitive bid then obviously they'll have to go somewhere else."

The $115-million Tampa Bay bid and $95-million San Francisco bid will be processed as separate deals, according to Greenberg. "There are two transactions and they will go through the same system," he said.

That includes an investigation by the Ownership Committee into the character, background and financial strength of the group, followed by what amounts to a pass/fail recommendation. The committee is essentially done with the Tampa Bay group and is expected to approve it soon.

The Executive Council, a 10-member panel running the game in the absence of a commissioner, will discuss the "policy issues" of a team move and a relocation premium, Greenberg said.