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Sale still pending for SWB Yankees; could team depart?

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New Scranton/Wilkes-Barre ballpark

Lackawanna County is still negotiating the sale of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Class AAA; International League) -- but could the team be on the move?

That things are taking so long is a little surprising. First, we already know what the sales price will be: $14.6 million, per an earlier agreement. We know the team will be playing on the road this summer, an arrangement coming from the Yankees and Mandalay. We know the team is willing to commit to a 30-year lease, with options for extensions. We already know that the purchase will come through SWB Yankees LLC, owned by the New York Yankees and Mandalay Baseball. And we know the deal must close fairly soon: renovation of PNC Field is slated to begin with ballpark demolition in March, and the proceeds of the team sale will be funding said demolition. No sale and lease, no demolition.

So what's holding up the sale? No one is saying publicly, but there's an ominous tone coming from the Lackawanna County Multi-Purpose Stadium Authority negotiators:

"We are in negotiations and trying to get the best deal for the residents of Lackawanna County. That is our main objective here," Commissioner Jim Wansacz told the Citizens Voice. "If we can't get a deal that is good for Lackawanna County, there will be no baseball in Lackawanna County. That's an option."

That certainly would be an interesting twist. Quite honestly, International League teams aren't available for move very often. If the Yankees and Mandalay manage to buy the team and not have a lease for Moosic, there would be the equivalent of a feeding frenzy of cities up and down the East Coast looking to upgrade their baseball fortunes. Indeed, we're guessing there would be several communities in the United States or even Canada wiling to shell out some big bucks to land the top farm team of the New York Yankees.

RELATED STORIES: SWB Yankees to play as road team for 2012; Could SWB Yankees stay in Scranton for 2012?; Surprise player in SWB Yankees temporary home: Newark; Decision on SWB Yankees fate delayed; Ottawa out of running for SWB Yankees -- but in line for affiliated ball; NY Yankees making moves with minor-league teams; Corbett OKs SWB ballpark renovation funds; Judge: Lackawanna County entitled to keep ballpark profits; PNC Field funding on hold; Luzerne County: SWB Yankees worth at least $25 million; Lackawanna County issues RFQ for PNC Field renovations; Debate rages over SWB Yankees sale; Yanks, Mandalay agree to buy SWB Yankees, unveil ballpark renovations; Compromise on the way in SWB ballpark squabble?; Rendell: Clock is ticking on new SWB ballpark financing; Counties continue spat; SWB Yankees likely to be sold this week; Lackawanna County: In a ballpark bind and mad; Squabbling could derail new SWB Yankees ballpark; Pols: Let's not fix up PNC Field -- or sell team to Mandalay, either

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