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PORTLAND-The Oregon State Senate passed an amended version of the stadium financing bill Saturday night, keeping alive hope that supporters of professional baseball in the city will be able to submit a provisional formal bid to Major League Baseball for the Montreal Expos.

SB 5 goes Monday for a third vote in the Senate. Bill 5 passed the House with a 33-25 vote. Gov. Ted Kulongoski has promised to sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.

Senate Bill 5 would contribute a projected $150 million of an estimated $300 million to $350 million stadium cost. Baseball officials are expected to decide by Labor Day where the Expos will play in 2004. The team is currently owned by the other 29 MLB teams.

SB 5 used to be HB 3606, which passed the house earlier in the session but was well on its way to dying in the Senate Rules Committee before supporters stuffed it into a gutted SB 5 in order to get around the committee. The move sent it back to the House, where last Wednesday’s vote sent it to the Senate floor for Saturday’s vote.

Saturday night’s vote came after the version sent over from the House on Wednesday failed to pass on Friday by an 11-19 vote. The most significant amendment that got the bill out of the Senate on Saturday states that the guarantor for the stadium financing cannot be a public body, such as the City of Portland. The reduction in risk to taxpayers is what is believed to have caused five senators to change their vote, giving the bill its necessary 16 “yea” votes.

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