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A LOOK AT EACH UBL FRANCHISE CITY
Published February 15, 1995
The franchise entry fee for each UBL ownership group is $5M and co-founder Bob Mrazek estimates start-up costs at $20M per team (THE DAILY). NEW ORLEANS: New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial held his own press conference following the UBL's tele-conference announcing the city's intent to assemble a local ownership group with strong minority involvement. Morial said the UBL franchise will give the city an economic boost during the "slack" tourism months of June through August (George Sweeney, New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 2/15). WASHINGTON, DC: Mrazek said the league has received a commitment from Jim Dalrymple, Exec Dir of the DC Sports Commission, that UBL will immediately conclude lease negotiations for the use of RFK on a multi-year basis with a "long-term" and "exclusive" lease -- if Northern VA is not awarded an MLB franchise by April 2, 1995. Former U.S. Rep. Tom McMillen is the designated leader of the DC franchise group (THE DAILY). In Washington, Mark Maske notes that the area's best chance of getting a professional baseball team "rests" with the UBL (WASHINGTON POST, 2/15). VANCOUVER: The UBL franchise would play in B.C. Place, a domed facility with a seating capacity of 55,818 for baseball and the potential for up to 110 luxury suites. Warren Buckley, President/CEO of the British Columbia Pavilion Corp., operators of B.C. Place: "The news of the UBL coming to Vancouver has received very positive reaction. City and provincial leaders are excited to host a big league baseball team" (UBL). According to Mrazek, Buckley has requested time to build a local ownership group, but the league is committed to providing help from its national investors. However, Buckley is quoted in this morning's papers saying it was not his job to find a local ownership group: "I've told the UBL my job is not to convince (owners) on their behalf but to get them the audience and let them do the convincing" (Terry Bell, Vancouver PROVINCE, 2/15). Mrazek said the UBL received a commitment for an exclusive lease with B.C. Place, in light of the Mariners' plans to play 8-10 games a year there (THE DAILY). Brent Imlach, GM of the AAA Vancouver Canadians, said the Japanese company that owns his club will not be involved (TORONTO SUN, 2/15). SAN JUAN: San Juan Mayor Hector Luis Acevedo: "Baseball is deeply rooted in the culture of our island and we look forward to being first in the Latin American baseball market." The franchise will be housed at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium, which hosted the Caribbean World Series (UBL). GREATER NEW YORK: Mrazek said the league has three different options for this area: Long Island, Brooklyn and Northern NJ, with prospective ownership interested in each locale. Mrazek: "The issue in New York ... is complicated by the fact that there is no adequate stadium." Any new stadium would have to have a minimum 25,000-seat capacity. The league has retained Dallas-based HKS, designers of The Ballpark at Arlington, to develop a prototype facility for the UBL. For '96, the league would need a temporary facility in New York, and plans are under way to develop facilities similar to those for Atlanta '96 (THE DAILY). Murray Chass notes Mrazek "didn't say, but the likelihood is that ultimately one team will play in New Jersey and another in Brooklyn or Long Island" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/15). SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Los Angeles or the Riverside-San Bernardino area are the two prospective sites, and UBL claims to have at least two prospective investor groups. As for Riverside/San Bernardino, there is no adequate stadium but Mrazek said there is a "definitive interest" to see a stadium built. Moss added that in discussions with the L.A. Coliseum Commission, they said the stadium would be re-configured to become a "true baseball facility" -- not like the way it was when the Dodgers used the venue in '58 (THE DAILY). In Riverside, Maureen Delany notes the 3,500-seat Riverside Sports Center exists in a residential neighborhood and could not be expanded easily. Meanwhile, Pat Lynch, GM of the Coliseum and L.A. Sports Arena, said he has spoken with UBL reps but is waiting for more information (Riverside PRESS ENTERPRISE, 2/15).