1993 Major League Baseball expansion
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Talks of expansion began on August 8, 1985 when the players and the owners agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The basic agreement allowed the National League to expand by two members to match the American League. Details of expansion were hammered out in the 1990 CBA.
Ten cities were considered serious candidates for the two spots: Buffalo, New York; Charlotte, North Carolina; Denver, Colorado; Miami, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Orlando, Florida; Phoenix, Arizona; Sacramento, California; Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida; and Washington, D.C. The Florida Suncoast Dome was built in St. Petersburg specifically to lure an existing or expansion MLB franchise.
The National League expansion committee consisted of Pittsburgh Pirates Chairman Doug Danfort, New York Mets president Fred Wilpon and Houston Astros owner John McMullen. On December 18, 1990, the committee eliminated Charlotte, Nashville, Phoenix and Sacramento from consideration to cut the list down to six finalists. With three sites from Florida remaining in contention it became apparent that one would win out while the other spot would go to a non-Florida team.
Expansion to Denver, Colorado
After previous failed attempts to bring the Major League Baseball to Colorado (most notably the Pittsburgh Pirates nearly relocating to Denver following the Pittsburgh drug trials in 1985), by the late 1980s a team seemed to be a possibility in Denver. The Colorado Baseball Commission, led by banking executive Larry Varnell, was successful in getting Denver voters to approve a 0.1% sales tax to help finance a new baseball stadium. Also, an advisory committee was formed in 1990 by then-Governor of Colorado Roy Romer to recruit an ownership group. The group selected was led by John Antonucci, an Ohio beverage distributor, and Michael I. Monus, the head of the Phar-Mor drugstore chain. Local and regional companies—such as Erie Lake, Hensel Phelps Construction, KOA Radio, and the Rocky Mountain News—rounded out the group.
Expansion to Miami, Florida
U.S. Senator Connie Mack III from Florida, the grandson of baseball great Connie Mack and a member of the Senate Task Force on Major League Baseball, pushed Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent to expand to Florida.
Finalization of expansion plans
In June 1991, the expansion committee accepted the bids of the Miami and Denver groups to debut in 1993. Expansion was approved unanimously by all teams in July 1991. The Denver group chose to call their franchise the Colorado Rockies, the same name used as the National Hockey League franchise that played in Denver from 1976 to 1982. The Miami group chose to call themselves the Florida Marlins to broaden their fanbase to the entire state, while reviving the nickname of a defunct minor league team. An expansion draft to stock both franchises was set for November 1992.
Though previous expansions allowed the drafting of players from the same league only, Vincent declared that the American League would receive $42 million of the National League's $190 million in expansion revenue so that the AL would provide players in the National League expansion draft. In an attempt to win support in the American League and balance the vote, Vincent decreed that the AL owners were entitled to 22% of the $190 million take. This decision marked the first time in expansion history that leagues were required to share expansion revenue or provide players for another league's expansion draft. Vincent said the owners expanded to raise money to pay their collusion debt.
The Tampa Bay Baseball Group sued MLB for allegedly reneging on an agreement to grant an expansion team to Tampa. The suit was settled in 2003.
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