ROSEMONT, Ill., Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Just days after the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees to become the quickest expansion team in league history to capture its first World Series championship, baseball owners on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of eliminating two teams by the start of the 2002 season.
Commissioner Bud Selig did not name the teams, but the Minnesota Twins, Florida Marlins, Montreal Expos and Tampa Bay Devil Rays have been mentioned as the likeliest candidates for elimination.
Montreal is expected to be at the top of the league's list. The Expos have lost 90 games in four straight seasons and average a little over 7,600 fans per game in Olympic Stadium.
Selig said there was one club with local revenues that are less than 8 percent of the local revenues of those generated by the top club and less than 18 percent of the industry average.
"It makes no sense for Major League Baseball to be in markets that generate insufficient local revenues to justify the investment in the franchise," Selig told reporters at Major League Baseball's quarterly meetings in Rosemont, Ill. "The teams to be contracted have a long record of failing to generate enough revenues to operate a viable major league franchise."
The owners agreed to have the commissioner's office complete negotiations with the potentially affected clubs and immediately begin bargaining the effects of contraction with the Major League Baseball Players Association, including details of the dispersal of players prior to the beginning of spring training.
The franchises that will cease operations are expected to be identified after the completion of negotiations with the clubs as well as the resolution of other details, such as minor league affiliations, notification of employees, and scheduling.
Selig said all of these details can be resolved in time for implementation by next season.
"This action, though difficult, should not surprise anyone who is familiar with the economics of the game," Selig said. "Our industry has significant financial problems that we are trying to address in a myriad of ways. Contraction is one step toward addressing the industry's problems."
Selig said the league hasn't ruled out the possibility of relocation, but it's not a practical solution at this time because there exists no prospective market that meets the desired requirements for fielding a stable, competitive and economically viable franchise for next season.
"The problems facing the potentially affected teams will not be resolved by either changing ownership or changing location," the commissioner argued. "Merely transferring existing problems to another ownership group or another city would only exacerbate the problem, not resolve it."
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