AAA panel snubs Md. for Charlotte, Ottawa

September 29, 1991|By Mark Hyman

Peter Kirk's pursuit of a Class AAA expansion franchise to play in the Annapolis-Bowie area apparently has come to an end. Yesterday, an expansion committee that has been studying five possible sites for two new teams recommended that they be awarded to Charlotte, N.C., and Ottawa.

Other finalists were Birmingham, Ala., and Tulsa, Okla.

The expansion committee's recommendation is not binding on National Association president Sal Artiaga, who ultimately will decide where the two teams are located. But Artiaga is expected to choose Charlotte and Ottawa soon.

Speaking after the committee's choices were announced yesterday, Kirk said he hoped Charlotte and Ottawa got the teams.

"I'd be unhappy if [the committee picks] weren't adopted," he said. "The Triple-A group has worked very hard to be fair in this whole process. We were treated very fairly."

Kirk, who leads an investment group that owns minor-league teams in Hagerstown and Frederick, also repeated comments he made last week about buying an existing franchise and moving it to the Annapolis-Bowie area.

Although he declined to identify the team owners with whom he is negotiating, Kirk said he believes a minor-league team will be playing in Prince George's County -- the proposed location of the Annapolis-Bowie franchise -- by 1993. The Class AAA expansion teams, which are needed because the National League recently expanded by two teams, also are scheduled to begin play that year.

"One of the possibilities we can do with an extremely high likelihood," Kirk said last night, referring to efforts to buy an existing franchise.

If he cannot buy and move a team in Class AAA -- the highest level of play in the minor leagues -- Kirk has said he would consider acquiring a Class AA franchise with the hope of someday moving up to the higher classification.

Kirk and his partners apparently favor a Class AAA team because of the possibilities for working more closely with the Baltimore Orioles. The Class A Frederick Keys and the Class AA Hagerstown Suns are Orioles minor-league affiliates, and team officials have not ruled out possibly ending their long relationship with Rochester, N.Y., home of their Class AAA team, if Kirk's group brings a Class AAA team to Maryland.

As for apparently losing out for an expansion franchise yesterday, Kirk said: "You're always disappointed not to win. But we came from the longest of the long shots to one of the finalists. Even though we didn't get one of the two teams, the response was positive."

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