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Expos to Connecticut?


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Major-league baseball in Connecticut?

March 18 2004

HARTFORD, Conn. -- A Massachusetts-based real estate developer wants to move the Montreal Expos to Connecticut and rename them the Connecticut Colonials.

John Alevizos of Wellesley, Mass., who helped Toronto land an expansion franchise in the mid-1970s, has organized a group of investors who want to buy the Montreal Expos and relocate the club to Connecticut.

Alevizos told the New Haven Register that his group offered more than the $125 million Major League Baseball paid for the Expos three years ago.

The group submitted a detailed proposal and bid last week to Jerry Reinsdorf, the Expos relocation committee chairman, and is awaiting a response from the league, he said.

"I think we have a sensible plan and a package that makes sense," Alevizos told the newspaper. "The next step is approval by the commissioner's office."

Bringing the Expos to Connecticut would be a major coup for the state, still stinging from the New England Patriots' last-minute rejection in 1999 and the departure of the Hartford Whalers, an NHL team, to North Carolina in 1997.

Major League Baseball, which tried to fold the Expos after the 2001 season, currently owns the franchise. MLB officials say they intend to find a permanent home for the Expos for the 2005 season. They are targeting July's All-Star Game to make a decision.

Rich Levin, Major League Baseball's senior vice president for public relations, said Tuesday his office was unaware of a bid from the Alevizos group.

"Nothing has filtered down to our office yet," Levin said.

A Reinsdorf spokesman could not confirm that Reinsdorf had received Alevizos' proposal.

Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Ore., are considered the favorites to land the Expos. Also in the running are Monterrey, Mexico; San Juan, Puerto Rico; San Antonio; Las Vegas and Norfolk, Va.

"We've been low key," Alevizos said. "But I realized I'm chasing the rabbit here. It's time to let the people in Connecticut know so they can voice their opinion."

Alevizos said his group is looking at several locations around the state to build a 34,000-seat stadium and parking plaza for more than 8,000 cars, most likely somewhere along the corridor between Springfield, Mass., and New Haven.

Alevizos estimated the cost for the stadium at around $250 million. No state aid for construction or long-term financing would be required, Alevizos said.

Major league rules prohibit a team from locating in the southwest corner of Fairfield County due to the proximity of the New York Yankees and New York Mets. The rest of the state is open, although if a team set up shop within a 35-mile radius of New Britain, they might have to work out an agreement with the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats.

From The Hartford Courant

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