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Expos Draw Local Interest

From Staff and Wire Reports

The Lake Elsinore Expos?

If Riverside attorney Gary Foltz’s grand plan becomes reality, Southern California would have a fourth Major League Baseball team to root for beginning with the 2004 season.

“The money to do this is here in our community -- I’m convinced of that,” Foltz said.

But those who will need to be convinced, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, MLB President Robert DuPuy and the league’s relocation committee, are highly skeptical of Foltz’s ability to beat bids for the league-owned Montreal Expos by one of three greater Washington (D.C.) committees or another group in Portland, Ore.

Major League Baseball spokesman Patrick Courtney said the relocation committee was aiming to determine the Expos’ next home before the All-Star break in mid-July.

Foltz, 50, told the Riverside Press-Enterprise last week that he had sent Selig a formal offer to purchase the Expos for $150 million and a letter detailing the merits of relocating the team to the Inland Empire.

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He said MLB approval would make an expanded Class-A ballpark, Lake Elsinore’s Diamond, the Expos’ home for two seasons until a new stadium could be built. He said the Inland Empire cities best positioned to build a stadium are Fontana and Riverside.

The key components of his offer: A public offering in which 30,000 “fans” can purchase ownership units ranging from $6,000 to $9,000, providing $225 million for the purchase and payroll of the team; $200 million in bonds from a yet-to-be-determined city redevelopment agency or county for ballpark construction; $30 million from an individual who would assume operating control of the team; $30 million from corporate sponsors.

-- Lance Pugmire

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David Justice is going through with his decision to retire. The outfielder said after Oakland’s playoff loss to Minnesota that he intended to quit baseball. On Thursday, he reiterated his playing days are over.

“Fourteen seasons is long enough,” he told ESPN radio. “I have a diminished desire to play.”

Justice, 36, won World Series titles with the Atlanta Braves in 1995 and the New York Yankees in 2000.

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The Cincinnati Reds beat Bruce Chen in the first salary arbitration case this year, and the pitcher will make $700,000 this season instead of the $830,000 he asked for.... Free-agent first baseman Travis Lee agreed to a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Lee hit .265 with 13 homers and 70 runs batted in for Philadelphia last year.... Left-hander Rick Ankiel, who didn’t pitch last year because of an elbow injury, agreed to a one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.... Former Detroit Tiger ace Jack Morris will serve as a local television color commentator on 40 Tiger games this season.


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