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GDT: Remember the Tampa Bay White Sox?

Yes, the Chicago White Sox were one of the teams that flirted with the Tampa Bay area before our region was awarded an expansion team.

In fact, as what is now Tropicana Field was under construction, the state went all in on this courtship.

The Orlando Sentinel of June 8, 1988 reported that the state legislature allocated $30 million to attract the White Sox.

“They play second fiddle to the Cubs in Chicago,” Haben said. “The Cubs are owned by the Chicago Tribune, who owns the major TV station.”

“If they come to Florida,” he said, “they’ll be No. 1 in one of the top 20 media markets in the U.S. They’ll be Florida’s team.”

Reinsdorf and Einhorn released a statement saying, “Florida political leaders have made a progressive statement to bring major-league baseball to their state by passing this legislation. Their commitment is most impressive.

And this gem:

They drew on many sources to lobby for the proposal, including Commerce Secretary Jeb Bush, who stressed the 300 jobs the move would create and the estimated $54 million a year in economic benefits.

And my favorite:

Joining Tampa interests in lobbying against the proposal was New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, a Tampa resident. Steinbrenner called Sen. John Grant, R-Tampa, Monday to express his opposition to putting a team in St. Petersburg

Were they ever serious about moving? Who knows, but the threat led them to get funding to replace the 1910 Comiskey park with today’s Guaranteed Rate Park, clearly the worst-named park in the league.