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Monday, October 4, 2010

Goodbye Dillas! We hardly knew y'all!


The decision by Potter County Commissioners to end the lease for the Amarillo Dillas (independent; United League Baseball) may have terminated the current version of the team over unpaid rent, but the independent American Association is preparing a bid for the market.

The meeting of the Potter County Commissioners was pretty much a formality: Reunion Sports Group was $75,000 in arrears in rent, had bounced two checks designed to make up the shortfall and totally punted on a third. Making thing worse for the Dillas: the team also has unpaid bills among community vendors. After so many missed deadlines and lack of communications, Potter County officials were ready to pull the plug on the Amarilo Dilla Villa lease.

There was a last-minute pitch by the ULB's John Bryant to retain arguably the best market for United League Baseball (Amarillo was the leader in attendance in the circuit last season, drawing almost 3,000 fans a game), as he asked for a lease extension that would have seen the league make up the $75,000 in January, a Wimpy offer that was rejected by commissioners as coming up short. Stretching things out is pretty much the only way ULB can hang onto the market: if given until January to make up the funds and not having the lease terminated, ULB is pretty much assured to be controlling the ballpark in 2011 -- there just would be so little time for another outfit to come in.

An interested onlooker in the proceedings: Scott Berry, the owner of the American Association's Shreveport-Bossier Captains, who is seeking the market for his circuit.

In the end, the county commissioners voted to terminate the lease, bring the ULB to mediation to work out a payment scheme, and set up a schedule to solicit ballpark bids in the next few weeks. Obviously the American Association will make a play, and we expect ULB to submit one as well: if a lawsuit is on the way, as ULB reps promise, they need to work as though things are normal in the market. (One interesting side note: apparently the county owns the Dillas name, not the ULB.)

Amarillo isn't the only place where ULB owes: Laredo officials tell us the Laredo Broncos are over $40,000 in arrears. The team has been locked out of its offices by the city. In this case, the league already knew it was not returning: a deal brokered last month will see a new ballpark opening in 2012 for an American Association team.

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