Monday, February 16, 2009

Continental Baseball League Forms Alliance with United League to Expand to 8 Teams in 2009

DALLAS, TEXAS, (February 16, 2009) There will be some new faces and places in the Continental Baseball Leaguewhen its third season of operation begins in May, as plans were announced today to form an alliance for the 2009 season
with the United League, owned and operated by United Sports Equities, LLC.

CBL commissioner and CEO Ron Baron, along with Bob Ibach, director of league operations, said the CBL, in its third year of operating an independent professional baseball league, will ally with four teams from the United League for the upcoming 60-game season that begins in mid-May.

Baron said United League teams in the Texas cities of Amarillo, Laredo, San Angelo and Edinburg will be joining returning CBL franchises in Bay Area (Texas City) and Texarkana, plus two new CBL franchises in Dallas and Alexandria, LA for the coming season. Edinburg is subject to procuring sufficient local investor participation by February 28.

The new Dallas franchise will be nicknamed the Aviators, and play in nearby McKinney, where the McKinney Blue Thunder operated last season. The Bay Area Toros return for their third season and are the defending league champions. Recently, it was announced that the Alexandria Aces are expected to be joining the CBL, after several seasons of play in the United League.

“This offers our league a great opportunity to expose our brand of baseball to many
more cities in the southwest area, and we feel the citizens of those areas will enjoy our family first, cost-effective brand of professional baseball,” said Baron. “I truly feel that these new cities will be involved in our league for years to come and help take us to a new level of play and excitement.”

“When Ron and I first started talking about starting a professional baseball league where families and youngsters came first, and where it wouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg to see a solid brand of pro ball, we envisioned being able to expand to 8 teams within three seasons,” said Ibach, a former Cubs front office executive who has been around major league baseball for more than 30 years. “Adding on these new teams for the coming season, in some really savvy baseball markets, is certainly an exciting time for all of us and I am looking forward to a very competitive and rewarding season in 2009.”

The seeds of the CBL were first discussed at the Winter Baseball Meetings held in Dallas in early December of 2005 between Ibach and Baron, a local Dallas businessman who has years of experience in sports marketing as aconsultant for Major League Baseball and National Football League teams. The CBL was launched in late May of
2006, and former major league players such as Jay Johnstone, Curtis Wilkerson, Tom Goodwin and Steve Trout have all been involved during that time.

The CBL’s annual championship trophy is named after former Texas Rangers pitcher and Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins.

The Tarrant County Blue Thunder, which relocated to McKinney last season, won the league’s first championship in 2007 under manager Wilkerson, who played in the major leagues for many seasons, including several with the TexasRangers.

Both Baron and Ibach are both proud of the level of play offered by the CBL, as well as its fan-friendly atmosphere. Tickets to CBL games range from $4 to $8, parking is free, and most concession items are $3.50 or less.

After CBL games, home team players hang out with fans on the field to give autographs and youth clinics. “These players become real hometown heroes in these communities,” said Ibach. “In turn, we also give our players a chance to get seen
by big league scouts. In fact, we had six of our ballplayers sign with affiliated teams this past season, and I anticipate that number to continue to grow as more of the big league teams and their scouts become familiar with our league and the
caliber of play.

“Our group has some great relationships with many of the big league teams and their scouting directors and general managers, and we are always keeping in contact with them.” Baron, who like Ibach was raised in New York City, and went to Mets games as a youngster, said, “One of the reasons I got involved with the CBL was to bring affordable baseball to families, with an emphasis on creating a fun time at the ballpark for youngsters of all ages. Ticket prices at the major league level have climbed dramatically, whereas it costs more than $300 for a family of four to attend a game. In our league, a family of four can come to a game for under $50.

The league will again have a free-agent camp in late March in Dallas. Specific dates will be announced shortly.

The official league schedule has been delayed because of the recent alliance and accompanying addition of the four new teams, but Baron indicated a preliminary schedule has already been drafted and it will be finalized shortly after league
meetings are held in early February in Dallas.

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