1998 Major League Baseball expansion
The 1998 Major League Baseball expansion resulted in the establishment of MLB's 29th and 30th teams beginning play for the 1998 season. After initiating an expansion committee in March 1994, 27 groups representing nine cities submitted bids for the proposed expansion teams. After a yearlong process, on March 9, 1995, the league awarded the National League franchise to Phoenix and the American League franchise to St. Petersburg. The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (presently the Tampa Bay Rays), would subsequently begin play for the 1998 season.
With the successes of the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins as part of the 1993 expansion, by 1994 Major League Baseball was looking to expand again from 28 to 30 teams. On March 2, 1994, MLB created an expansion committee to evaluate the feasibility of expansion. Although both Phoenix and St. Petersburg were believed to be overwhelming favorites for the franchises, other cities were invited to bid for the proposed franchises. The committee was headed by Boston Red Sox General Partner John Harrington, with others serving on the committee including Bill Giles of the Philadelphia Phillies, Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox, George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees, Stanton Cook of the Chicago Cubs, Richard Jacobs of the Cleveland Indians, Stan Kasten of the Atlanta Braves, Leonard Coleman president of the National League and the president of the American League, Bobby Brown.
By June, the league announced that all cities with interest in the proposed franchises should submit their intentions by June 24. By June 30, the committee released the nine communities that submitted information to MLB for the proposed franchises. Buffalo, Mexico City, Monterrey, Nashville, Northern Virginia, Orlando, Phoenix, St. Petersburg and Vancouver placed expansion requests, Other cities mentioned as potential expansion locations which did not officially submit an application to the league included Charlotte, Washington and Guadalajara.
After whittling down the field to four finalists (Northern Virginia, Orlando, Phoenix and St. Petersburg), MLB announced Phoenix and St. Petersburg as the two expansion franchises on March 9, 1995. Announced to begin play for the 1998 season, each ownership group paid a $130 million expansion fee to enter the league. The ownership groups paid $32 million in July 1995, $25 million in July 1996, $40 million in July 1997 and $33 million in November 1997. In addition, the two expansion teams gave away their rights to $5 million from baseball's central fund for each of the five years following expansion (1998-2002).
- Justice, Richard (March 3, 1994). "Baseball eyes addition of its 29th, 30th teams". The Washington Post. p. D1. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- Justice, Richard (June 10, 1994). "Owners Explore Expansion; Baseball Also Reports On Affirmative Action". The Washington Post. p. C1.
- "Baseball:Orlando is on the list". The Orlando Sentinel. July 1, 1994. p. D1.
- Lipton, Eric; Maske, Mark (March 10, 1995). "Virginia gets no promise - Locals eye existing teams - Tampa, Phoenix get new ones". The Washington Post. p. F1.
- "Expansion Draft No Joke Anymore". Chicago Tribune. November 13, 1997. Retrieved October 19, 2011.