WASHINGTON -- Fifteen U.S. senators, many representing states seeking big-league franchises, will unveil the formation of a group urging major-league expansion, officials said Tuesday.
Jim Spellman, an aide to Sen. Tim Wirth, D-Colo., said the Senate Task Force on Expansion of Major League Baseball will announce its expansion plan Wednesday. Members also have asked to meet baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth and the presidents of the National and American leagues.
'We're trying to draw the commissioner's attention to the broad-based support in the Senate for expansion of major-league baseball,' Spellman said. 'The task force is asking the major leagues to expand.'
A letter from the task force to Ueberroth and the league presidents identified as 'enthusiastic and committed communities' the cities of Denver; Phoenix, Ariz.; Miami; Tampa, Fla.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Indianapolis; Washington; New Orleans; Columbus, Ohio; Nashville, Tenn.; and northern New Jersey.
A spokesman for the commissioner's office said Ueberroth is in Florida for a marketing meeting and was unavailable for comment.
Baseball franchises historically have funneled millions of dollars into local communities through jobs, taxes and concessions, as well as conferring status.
The task force letter, dated Oct. 28, to Ueberroth, AL President Bobby Brown and NL President A. Bartlett Giamatti invited the three to discuss the expansion process.
'We would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you at some point before the end of November to informally discuss issues related to expansion of professional baseball,' the letter states.
'We understand that neither the baseball owners nor your office has made any commitments to proceed with expansion. However, interest in our home states, and the district, is stronger than ever, and, as you well know, both the American League and the National League in recent months have formed committees to study expansion,' the letter adds.
Members of the bipartisan Senate task forceinclude: Democratic presidential candidate Albert Gore of Tennessee; Wirth; Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz.; John McCain, R-Ariz.; John Breaux, D-La.; Dan Quayle, R-Ind.; District of Columbia delegate Walter Fauntroy; Bennett Johnston, D-La.; and James Sasser, D-Tenn.
Other senators of the task force: William Armstrong, R-Colo.; Lawton Chiles, D-Fla.; Bob Graham, D-Fla.; Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; Richard Lugar, R-Ind.; and Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio.