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Orlando group granted delay in presentation

Orlando officials will not make a presentation to Major League Baseball's expansion committee in Chicago on Tuesday.

The Orlando group was granted an indefinite delay by baseball officials because two key members of the ownership group, Paul Jacobs and Steve Kurtz, will be unavailable.

Group leader Norton Herrick said he could have made the trip without his partners, who were part of the group that won the Colorado Rockies franchise, but was glad to get the delay.

"We always intended for them to do the presentation. I was more the money guy than the presenter," Herrick said Wednesday. "If I had to go, I would've. You only have to talk about three things. The city and the (proposed) stadium, which Mayor (Glenda) Hood could do, and my pocketbook, which I sure as hell can talk about."

Baseball officials also released the order for Tuesday's session. The Tampa Bay group has the second 90-minute slot, beginning at 10:45 a.m. Phoenix leads off at 9 a.m., with the northern Virginia groups to appear at 12:45 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Tampa Bay group leader Vince Naimoli said he asked for an early time slot because he had other business that day in New York and was pleased with the assignment.

He also said the Tampa Bay presentation will include a brief video and comments by him, St. Petersburg civic leader Jack Critchfield, St. Petersburg city administrator Rick Dodge and St. Petersburg Mayor David Fischer.

This is the second time Orlando officials have sought a delay during the expansion process. When they didn't have an owner by the Aug. 11 deadline for applications, Orlando officials were given an extension until Sept. 6 and signed a deal with Herrick just in time to meet the deadline.

"I can't comment on what baseball does for other groups," Naimoli said. "I know we are fully prepared in all aspects and our area is ready to start playing baseball immediately."

The delay is expected to last a few weeks. Jacobs, general counsel for the Rockies, and Kurtz, an accountant, are witnesses in a complicated Ohio bankruptcy case involving Mickey Monus, the deposed president of the Phar-Mor drugstore chain who was an original investor in the Rockies.

Herrick said he was told that once the trial ends, the committee will schedule a meeting and his group will be given short notice, perhaps just one day.

Herrick said the delay will not give his group a competitive advantage. He is looking to add Orlando-area partners (but hasn't) and said Citicorp has promised to arrange whatever financing he desires. "That part's easy," Herrick said.

Herrick remains confident Orlando will get a team ahead of Tampa Bay. He said the ThunderDome's location, design and parking facilities are bad and work against the Tampa Bay bid.

"That's why I'm confident," Herrick said. "If they had the stadium we're going to have I'd be nervous, but I'm not."

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