More Lynx to Pennsylvania

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:31 AM ET

Another city in Pennsylvania is making a pitch to land the Ottawa Lynx.

A pair of businessmen are working with Pennsylvania state legislators on a funding plan for a new baseball stadium in Allentown, located 100 km north of Philadelphia.

Reports yesterday in The Express-Times, a newspaper in Easton, Pa., and The Morning Call of Allentown claim businessmen Joe Finley and Craig Stein are holding discussions with Lynx owner Ray Pecor on a sale of the Triple-A International League franchise.

The plan involves a 7,000-seat stadium with the possibility of more seats being added in future years.

Finley and Stein would like to have the team start playing in 2008, according to one of the reports, which means the Lynx would stay in Ottawa for two more years after the end of the current season.

Lynx GM Kyle Bostwick said he has not been in discussions with Finley or Stein, and said he was unaware of any proposals made to Pecor, who lives in Burlington, Vt.

"It's to the point where that any time there's going to be a Triple-A team that's supposedly moving, we're going to be tied into it," said Bostwick. "I know that there is talk about trying to get a stadium down there, but I thought it was a Class-A facility. I didn't think they were trying to build a Triple-A stadium."

Rumours of a relocation for the Lynx have been nothing new since Pecor first lamented poor support for the franchise in August 2002, just two years after he bought the club from Howard Darwin.

Last year, there was speculation the club may move to Harrisburg, Pa.

The Lynx rank last in attendance in the 14-team league, attracting less than 2,400 fans a game when the average IL crowd this year has been is 6,800.

Pecor has publicly stated in the past that he needs 4,000 fans each game to make money. The Lynx have not attracted that many fans since the 1997 season.

Ottawa is the only city in Canada with a Triple-A baseball franchise. Three teams in the Pacific Coast League in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton recently relocated to cities in the U.S.

One hitch that could stall a deal for Allentown is the seating capacity of the stadium. The plan is for 7,000 seats with the possibility for expansion.

"As far as the International League is concerned, 10,000 is kind of our magic number," said IL president Randy Mobley from his office in Dublin, Ohio.

Mobley added that the league governors would consider Allentown's proposal if it included plans for a stadium that would allow that number of spectators at each game.

The Orioles, parent club of the Lynx, wouldn't stand in the way of a move to Allentown, located 250 km northeast of Baltimore.

"It would be a better option for our fans, but also for our organization for the team to be so close," said Orioles GM Jim Beattie yesterday.

"It makes it easier to be able to get players back and forth very quickly.

"Having a team in Canada with the immigration and customs issues has made it a little tougher," he said.


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