As many as 20 Montreal Expos home games could be moved to Puerto Rico next year under a plan baseball officials discussed today before Game 5 of the World Series.
In addition, management and union officials discussed the possibility of moving the season-opening series between the Seattle Mariners and Athletics from Oakland to Japan.
The commissioner's office operates the Expos on behalf of the other 29 teams, which bought the franchise this year from Jeffrey Loria, who purchased the Florida Marlins. Baseball officials want to move the team from Montreal, where the Expos drew 812,000 fans this season, but have likely ruled out a relocation for 2003.
Charlotte, Portland, Ore., and the District also have been considered for Expos' home games, but the focus is on Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, one lawyer familiar with the discussions said on the condition of anonymity.
The shift of games was discussed during a meeting that included Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer; Rob Manfred, the owners' top labor lawyer; and three officials of the players' association.
"The discussions are ongoing," said Gene Orza, the union's No. 2 official. "They'll be some information-sharing going on. It's a complicated subject. It's one of those subjects that when you delve into it, you realize it's more complex than would otherwise appear be the case."
Manfred and Expos General Manager Omar Minaya declined to comment, and DuPuy did not return a telephone call seeking comment.