Hoping to score right off the bat, Jacksonville's new Economic
Development Commission has begun a search for an owner who can
bring Triple-A baseball to town.
"A Triple-A franchise is ours to lose," said Tom Petway,
chairman of the month-old commission. "It is critical that we
surface an ownership group."
Meeting as a group yesterday for only the second time, Petway
assigned commission member Dan Connell to quickly seek out a
would-be owner for a new minor league team.
Triple-A is the level of baseball just below the major leagues.
Jacksonville now has a Double-A team.
The Triple-A organization plans to field two expansion teams in
1998 and sent a delegation to scout Jacksonville as a possible
To have a shot at a team, Petway said, Jacksonville needs to
quickly identify an ownership group that can pay the $7.5
million fee required for a new franchise.
Connell, an executive with the Jacksonville Jaguars of the
National Football League, said he expected the city could hear
from interested parties.
City officials and the owners of the city's Double-A team, the
Suns, have stated enthusiasm for such a franchise. But to date
Jacksonville has no formal bid for a team, and no formal
agreement to build the 10,000-seat stadium that a Triple-A team
City-owned Wolfson Park, where the Suns play, seats about
Professional baseball is having difficulty finding suitable new
Triple-A cities, said Suns General Manager Peter Bragan Jr. The
organization had set a deadline of last year for cities to apply
for the new teams. However, Bragan and city Finance Director
Mike Weinstein, the development commission's interim director,