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,
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
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).
As expected, Senate Judiciary Chair Orrin Hatch, and Sens.
Pat Moynihan and Bob Graham introduced the first bipartisan
legislation to address MLB's antitrust exemption. The bill would
permit players to sue if the owners again attempt to implement an
economic system. Hatch: "This would not affect baseball's
ability to control franchise relocation, nor would it affect the
minor leagues." The bill would not impose a settlement, but the
players have promised to return if it passes -- probably
resulting in a lockout by owners (Steve Daley, CHICAGO TRIBUNE,
LOW EXPECTATIONS: Reaction among Hatch's Republican
colleagues was less than favorable. Sen. Trent Lott, No. 2 in
the Senate leadership: "Totally insane. We're not going to get
in the middle of a baseball strike." Lott, who says he backs the
idea of ending the exemption, said he would "not be part of a
deal that would force one side or another into an agreement."
House Speaker Newt Gingrich echoed Lott: "I'm not sure I want to
use [Hatch's bill] as a club to beat up the owners on behalf of
the players." House Judiciary Chair Henry Hyde said he would be
willing to hold hearings on the exemption, but not until "later
this year" (Steve Daley, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/15). MLB General
Counsel Chuck O'Connor on the Hatch bill: "It's a straw man.
It's a false issue. It deserves no attention because it is
special-interest legislation" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/15).
TODAY'S HEARING: Scheduled witnesses for today's baseball
hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust,
Business and Competition: Moynihan, Sen. Nancy Kassebaum,
Graham, Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, Red Sox CEO John
Harrington, former assistant Attorney General James Rill, MLBPA
Exec Dir Donald Fehr, Royals Player Rep David Cone, Indians
veteran Eddie Murray and former FTC General Counsel Kevin Arquit
(USA TODAY, 2/15).
The United Baseball League announced its six location for
charter franchises: New Orleans, Washington, Vancouver, San
Juan, Greater New York and Southern California. The announcement
was made by UBL co-founders -- former U.S. Rep. Bob Mrazek,
player agent Dick Moss, U.S. Rep. John Bryant and economist
Andrew Zimbalist -- from the league's headquarters in New York
City. UBL's inaugural '96 season will be played with a minimum
of eight franchises. UBL officials identified a number of
locations as the other potential '96 sites: New England (either
Hartford or Worcester), Sacramento, San Antonio, Honolulu, Miami,
Orlando, Portland, OR, Jacksonville, Columbus, OH, Mexico City
and Monterrey, Mexico (THE DAILY).
GAME/RULES STRUCTURE: The league intends to play a 154-game
schedule. Noting changes brought about in other sports by
upstart leagues, Mrazek said the UBL will make an effort to speed
up the game without affecting its integrity. As for player
development, the UBL hopes to develop their own minor league as
well as work with independent minor leagues, including the Texas-
Louisiana League, whose commissioner is John Bryant, a UBL co-
founder (THE DAILY). Dick Moss: "Players in our league are going
to share in profits, they will share in equity interests in teams
and they will share also in decision-making as much as possible.
There will not be this kind of a confrontational attitude where
in the establishment now, the owners feel the players are the
enemy, and vice-versa" (CNBC, 2/14).
TIMING AND SCHEDULE: Expect the UBL to issue a series of
announcements in the coming weeks, dealing with either new
franchises, stadium construction or rule changes.
TV DEAL/SPONSORS: Mrazek said UBL has had contact with two
different national networks: "Essentially, their interest is in
determining what our markets are going to be. ... There was a
time when a network contract was in fact the only game in town in
order to determine the viability of a new league. ... But with
the growth of regional TV and cable TV and a whole range of
wireless and satellite services and pay-per-view, there are a
whole lot of things that we have to look at." Mrazek said the
league is presently not in need of short-term income, and that it
would be a few months before they begin courting corporate
sponsors (THE DAILY).