O's Ripken nears sole control of BayRunners

He aims to expand 10 percent stake

February 29, 2000|By BRENT JONES AND JOE STRAUSS | BRENT JONES AND JOE STRAUSS,SUN STAFF

Cal Ripken and the International Basketball League appear close to a deal that would make the Orioles third baseman sole owner of the BayRunners.

Ripken owns 10 percent of the team and has his representatives working on a package that would allow him to gain the remaining share. The league currently owns the rest of the BayRunners along with the Las Vegas franchise.

An announcement could come as early as the end of this week, although both sides are hesitant to say that it is a done deal.

Ripken acquired his 10 percent shortly before the start of the season in late November.

IBL officials did not want to comment on the proposed deal, but Ripken seems excited about it.

"It's interesting to me. It's like baseball with its farm systems," Ripken said. "I like the concept, and I'm exploring that.

"I'm satisfied with the viability of the league. I think it will do well. I think it's been successful in its first year. The potential is great. I'm looking into how I can be a bigger part and what resources I can bring to the league, but it's mostly out of a professional sports curiosity."

Despite the BayRunners' struggles on the court and in filling Baltimore Arena, Ripken said he is encouraged by the team and league. The BayRunners (12-23), who face San Diego at 7: 30 tonight at Baltimore Arena, are in third place in the four-team East Conference, battling Richmond for the final playoff spot.

Neither side would comment on how much of a financial investment Ripken will make. Current owners paid between $500,000 and $1 million and were required to have a $1 million line of credit.

"I have an interest in basketball," Ripken said. "I like the concept. I like the developmental side of that league for the NBA. I like the youth and I like the strategy, from a business standpoint, of taking advantage of regional talent and showcasing Maryland [players].

"I think there's a following in the area. The strategy is to take good players who, at that point, hadn't made an NBA team but are still very good players and might possibly develop."

BayRunners tonight

Opponent: San Diego Stingrays

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7: 30

Outlook: This is the final home game before the BayRunners go on a seven-game trip west, the longest of the season. Stingrays G Saddi Washington is the IBL Player of the Week, playing in only 10 games since signing Jan. 30. The Stingrays are a league-worst 1-16 on the road.

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