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UBL LOOKING TO START IN '96, BUT STILL LACKS ESSENTIALS
Published May 23, 1995
In Washington, Leonard Shapiro examines the state of the United Baseball League and writes that with less than a year to go before they begin play, UBL organizers "have yet to announce the identity of a single franchise owner, club executive or player, let alone what stadiums they've secured and whcih television entities -- if any -- will broadcast their games." UBL co-founder Robert Mrazek, who promises details "in due time": "I don't want to sound as if we're bewildered or befuddled because we're not. We're making progress. It's do or die for us in '96. We think the opportunity is there. We have an abundance of solid, serious investors. We'll be able to hire major league players. The most difficult problem is with stadiums." Shapiro notes, "With the new TV networks being formed by Paramount and Time Warner, with CBS out of the NFL, NBA, and major league baseball picture and with a 500-channel cable universe a virtual certainty, UBL officials are confident they can provide attractive programming." Agent Leigh Steinberg believes that cable outlets and some networks will be interested, but adds, "The key is do they have adequate money to cover their losses and have enough deep-pocketed owners who won't panic?" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/20). VIRGINIA BASEBALL THREATENED BY UBL? Virginia Baseball officials are reportedly "working behind the scenes, trying to get where St. Petersburg was in the most recent major league baseball expansion process -- in a secured position to be awarded the next team." The group is also pursuing the possibility of luring an existing team to the area. If that happens, RFK Stadium would be used as a temporary home until a new stadium is built. But RFK officials have been involved in negotiations with the UBL, which hopes to lease the stadium for its Washington franchise. Privately, DC officials "acknowledge that the best chance to bring baseball back to the Washington area is through Virginia Baseball, and they will be reluctant to make a deal" with the UBL if it endangers Virginia Baseball's chances of bringing a franchise to the Washington area. DC Sports Commission Dir Jim Dalrymple said he has had little contact recently with the UBL: "There's nothing really moving on that front" (Thom Loverro, WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/20).