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Buffalo is making a big-league pitch to convince a dozen National League team owners that this should be the next expansion city in major league baseball.

"We watched 500 Buffalonians, former Buffalonians and friends of Buffalo at a hotel in Washington, D.C., last month and decided that we can repeat that success in Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Montreal and the other cities in the league," said Kevin D. Keeley, president of the Greater Buffalo Chamber of Commerce, as he announced the new initiative at a press conference at Pilot Field today.

"We're looking to people here to furnish us the names of their friends and relatives who live in those dozen cities. We'll contact them and invite them to Buffalo Nights between now and the fall of 1991 -- when the major league owners vote on which city will get the National League franchise.

"We are ready to play major league ball in Buffalo tonight," Keeley said.

Keeley was joined at the press conference by County Executive Gorski, County Comptroller Alfreda Slominski, Bisons General Manager Mike Billoni, Deputy Mayor Samuel Iraci and Burt Flickinger, the chairman of the World University Games effort. All echoed the theme that Buffalo is a big-league city.

The Chamber will provide staff and send mailings for the "Buffalo Nights," which should be "self-financing," Keeley said.

"We will use those events to do more than push for major league baseball. We'll tell the country about the World University Games. We'll tell the nation about our culture, our arts our business investment opportunities and our convention and tourism attractions."

In addition, Billoni said, the Bisons will attempt to organize former Buffalonians in those 12 National League cities to take part in Buffalo Nights at the ball park, purchasing blocks of seats so they can attend wearing pins and T-shirts that say "Vote Buffalo Major League."

Bus excursions to the nearest cities -- Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Montreal -- also are a possibility, he said.

"We want to show those owners that when Buffalo comes to town to play their team, ticket sales are going to go up."

"I think this is a great idea, a creative, imaginative idea that will work," Gorski said. "I'll even call my brother-in-law in Philadelphia to see if he'll host a party, as well . . . "

"If fellow Buffalonians (in those cities) can foster that good will and share what we know, that Buffalo is a great place, this can work," Gorski added.

Anyone who knows former Buffalo residents living in Pittsburgh, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston or Atlanta is asked to forward names and addresses to the Chamber at 107 Delaware Ave., Buffalo 14202. They'll take it from there.

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