Antonio Munoz, the Puerto Rican businessman who guaranteed Major League Baseball $6.6 million to stage 22 Montreal Expos' games in San Juan last season, expects a decision by the commissioner's office next week on his proposal to host the team again in 2004.
"We've had final talks and next week, between Monday and Tuesday, they should decide," Munoz said. "The negotiations between me and the major leagues are set. What's missing is the approval."
Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, also is considering an offer from Monterrey, Mexico. The Players' Assn. said San Juan is the leading contender, and DuPuy hopes to have a deal by next week.
Under the plan, the Expos again would play 22 games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Montreal's games in San Juan probably would be before the All-Star break.
"They asked for shorter trips, improvements to the stadium, and that they hold the team together and resolve to find it a home by 2005," DuPuy said.
Munoz said players also demanded that their travel schedule take them only between the Caribbean island and the U.S. East Coast -- not more distant locations on the U.S. mainland. Last season, the Expos had to travel from Puerto Rico to Seattle.
The Expos were bought by the other 29 major league teams before the 2002 season, and baseball has discussed a permanent move to Northern Virginia, Portland, Ore., or Washington. Major League Baseball doesn't want to approve a move until financing for a new ballpark is complete.
Anja Paerson of Sweden, the world and World Cup giant slalom champion, will start as overwhelming favorite in the absence of Olympic gold medalist Janica Kostelic and Karen Putzer, the World Cup runner-up last season, as the women's Alpine World Cup season resumes today at Park City, Utah.
Kostelic, the reigning overall World Cup champion from Croatia, is recovering from knee surgery and has been ordered to rest because of a thyroid problem.
Putzer, who has won three World Cup giant slaloms, is staying at home in Italy to nurse a hip injury.
Austria dominated opening training for Saturday's season-opening men's Alpine World Cup downhill, placing five skiers among the top 10 at Lake Louise, Canada.
Andreas Schifferer, the 1998 World Cup downhill champion, was timed in one minute 48.58 seconds down the 3,136-meter men's Olympic course. He was followed by 2002 Olympic gold medalist Fritz Strobl in 1:48.84.
Max Rauffer of Germany was third fastest with a time of 1:49.63. Reigning overall World Cup champion Stephan Eberharter tied for eighth with Daniel Zueger of Switzerland in 1:50.33.
Former double Olympic champion Hermann Maier of Austria, searching for his best form as he battles back from a motorcycle accident two years ago that nearly cost him his right leg, was 2.40 seconds behind in 20th place.
Vijay Singh and Kenny Perry shot seven-under-par 65s to share the first-round lead at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, Africa.
Ernie Els shot a 72 and shared 17th place in the 18-player field. He failed to break par for the first time in 29 rounds at the event.
Four players trailed the leaders by a stroke -- Chris DiMarco, Adam Scott, Robert Allenby and Darren Clarke.
DiMarco had a double bogey on the par-four eighth, but birdied eight of the remaining 10 holes.
Sophie Gustafson became the first woman to play on the Japan Golf Tour, shooting a two-over-par 74 in the first round of the Casio World Open at Kaimon.
Gustafson, a four-time winner on the LPGA Tour, had two birdies and four bogeys. Katsumune Imai shot a 65 and has a two-stroke lead over Koki Idoki, Dinesh Chand and Jyoti Randhawa.