Comcast group will buy three minor-league teams

Delmarva, Frederick, Bowie stay O's affiliates

June 15, 2000|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Comcast-Spectacor of Philadelphia has reached an agreement to purchase the three Maryland-based minor league franchises of Maryland Baseball LLC, it was announced yesterday.

Under terms of the deal, the sports and entertainment firm will acquire the Bowie Baysox, Frederick Keys and Delmarva Shorebirds in addition to Excel Food Services Company and Ballpark Services, which provide concessions and management services to the three clubs and to several national accounts.

According to a release issued by Comcast-Spectacor, the agreement is not related to the purchase by Comcast Corp. of the naming rights to the new athletic field house at the University of Maryland.

A subsidiary of Comcast, the country's third-largest cable company, Comcast-Spectacor also owns the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association, the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League, the First Union Center and First Union Spectrum, the Flyers Skate Zone and Comcast SportsNet, a regional sports network.

The Phantoms are one of the most successful minor-league franchises in the country, averaging nearly 12,000 fans a game in their fourth season at the First Union Spectrum.

"This is an incredible opportunity to expand Comcast-Spectacor, as well as our management company, Global Spectrum, and our concession company, Ovations Food Services," said Peter Luukko, president of Comcast-Spectacor Ventures. He did not disclose any financial terms.

Maryland Baseball chief executive officer Peter Kirk announced in April that the teams were for sale. Speculation locally centered on the possibility that Oriole owner Peter Angelos might be interested in buying the package, but nothing serious developed.

Maryland Baseball intends to concentrate its baseball efforts on the new Aberdeen Arsenal of the independent Atlantic League and, according to one of the five Maryland Baseball owners, "go into semi-retirement."

In the release, Kirk said the Baysox, Keys and Shorebirds "will continue to be affiliated with the Orioles and grow in their present location. We have spent a great deal of time in nurturing our franchises in the community and we know that Comcast-Spectacor is as committed to maintaining that same level of community involvement."

Kirk was out of the country on vacation and not available for additional comment.

The deal is subject to the approval of the Eastern League, Carolina League and South Atlantic League-in which the three teams play-the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (minors) and the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

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