Ripken to finish purchase of BayRunners next week

Rainess says season will be evaluated at end

March 31, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken's acquisition of the BayRunners is a "done deal" and should take place some time next week when the team returns from spring training in Florida, according to Ira Rainess, who coordinates Ripken's commercial enterprises.

Ripken already owns 10 percent and will obtain the remaining share along with two local minority partners from the International Basketball League.

IBL chief executive officer Arthur Cipriani met with Ripken and Rainess over dinner Wednesday night for more than an hour to finalize the deal.

"He [Cipriani] has the same vision as we do," said Rainess, speaking on behalf of Ripken. "We are going to be a great product."

Ripken's primary reason for obtaining the team is to keep it in Baltimore and showcase the local talent, according to Rainess. The BayRunners, who have struggled at times this season with attendance, are in last place in the East Conference with a 13-35 record and play tonight at first-place St. Louis.

The plan would be to stock the majority of the team with players like Rodney Elliott and Shawnta Rogers, both of whom played high school basketball in Baltimore.

"We want to promote local talent. We believe that we have the best talent city-to-city in the nation," Rainess said. As for what immediate impact the change in ownership will have on the team, Rainess said Ripken will evaluate the season as a whole at the conclusion.

"Neither of us ever really had a pulse on the action for this season," Rainess said.

BayRunners president Greg Smith said having Ripken will help most on the business end.

"They know the Baltimore market as well as anybody," Smith said. "They have many more longstanding relationships in Baltimore. Cal has always said that the main reason he is getting involved is because he believes this will be good for Baltimore."

BayRunners tonight

Opponent: St. Louis Swarm

Site: St. Charles Family Arena

Time: 7

Outlook: The Swarm has pretty much dominated the series so far, sweeping all four games. St. Louis is the only team the BayRunners have not beaten. Swarm F Doug Smith is the current International Basketball League's Player of the Week, and has recorded 18 double doubles this season. The Swarm has won three straight and is 22-4 at home. The BayRunners have lost 12 in a row.

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