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Group makes pitch to buy Suns

June 09, 2010|By BOB PARASILITI

HAGERSTOWN -- A group of investors, including two with local ties, have made an offer to buy the Hagerstown Suns.

Bruce Quinn, the chief operating officer and general manager of a Florida golf club, confirmed that he is heading a group that is in the confirmation process for purchasing the 30-year-old minor league baseball franchise.

"There might be some truth in that," Quinn said, with a laugh. "I have a local group and some family and friends who are interested in buying the team. We are looking to buy it from Mandalay."

Quinn said no immediate timetable is set for the completion of the sale.

Quinn said the local group includes Tony Dahbura, the executive vice president of Hub Labels, and Dr. Mitesh Kothari, a Hagerstown physician.

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"We were approached by friends through the Nationals and (former Baltimore Orioles manager) Davey Johnson," Dahbura said. "We are part of a group who want to make the Hagerstown Suns a success."

Dahbura said he met Quinn "about six months ago" when the group was being formed.

Kothari was unavailable for comment.

Mandalay Baseball Properties bought the Suns, the Single-A South Atlantic League affiliate of the Washington Nationals, in December 2002, and has been credited with helping the franchise see marked increases in attendance and revenue.

But Larry Freedman, Mandalay Baseball Properties executive vice president of legal and business affairs, denied any sale is imminent.

"Our policy is we don't make comment on anything that hasn't happened yet," he said.

Quinn is the chief operating officer and general manager of Polo Trace Golf Club in Delray Beach, Fla. Quinn and Johnson, who is a senior advisor with the Nationals, became friends in Florida.

Any sale of a minor league team needs to be approved by league owners, Minor League and Major League baseball.

Quinn said the next step will begin when his group meets with SAL owners during the South Atlantic League's All-Star break on June 21-23 in Hickory, N.C.

"After that, we will have a timetable," Quinn said.

The process could be completed as soon as the end of the season.

Hagerstown has had three franchises that have comprised the Suns 30-year stay.

The team arrived in 1981 when Lou Eliopulos purchased the Single-A Carolina League franchise in Rocky Mount, N.C., and moved it to Hagerstown. It became a Baltimore Orioles affiliate the following year. That franchise moved to Frederick, Md., in 1988.

In its place a Double-A Eastern League team moved to Municipal Stadium from Williamsport, Pa.. Also an Orioles affiliate, the team stayed for four seasons until it was moved to Bowie, Md.

Hagerstown was without a team for six weeks until Winston Blenckstone moved his SAL team from Myrtle Beach, S.C., in 1993. The team has been affiliated with Toronto, San Francisco, the New York Mets and now the Nationals.

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