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Sale of Connecticut Defenders scrapped

The sale of the Connecticut Defenders to a Richmond group fell through, as the group couldn't raise the $16 million needed to purchase the franchise.

The sale of the Connecticut Defenders (Class AA; Eastern League) to a Richmond group fell through, as the group couldn't raise the $16 million needed to purchase the franchise.

That the group headed by Brian Bostic had trouble raising money for the team had been an open secret in baseball circles in recent weeks; the lack of a game plan for a new or renovated ballpark in Richmond wasn't a factor in Defenders owner Lou DiBella finally pulling the plug on negotiations.

It does raise a few issues: whether the Defenders will stay in Norwich, and what happens to Richmond.

First, Norwich baseball fans shouldn't be too set on the Defenders staying in town; many expect the team to end up elsewhere no matter what. And Richmond is still a possible landing ground for the team, although 2010 would be a stretch; a new group would need to come in and negotiate a purchase. Nolan and Reid Ryan were in town today to check out the team, and we've told some of the usual suspects — Ripken Baseball being the biggest name — are also interested in checking out the Defenders. And we're told the Jamestown Jammers (short season; NY-Penn League) ownership remain very interested in the Norwich market.

Whoever buys the team is operating against the clock. A sale would need to be finalized by Aug. 1 in order to move the team to Richmond and The Diamond. That is, if Richmond still wants the team; word from the mayor's office is that many in city hall are not pleased with the Bostic group's inability to deliver a franchise after they've been going out on a limb to procure a new ballpark. It may take someone with the star power of Nolan Ryan or Cal Ripken to work out any ballpark deal in Richmond.

RELATED STORIES: New Richmond ballpark can't happen without city assistance: consultants; Community support lacking for Richmond ballpark proposalMiLB: New ballpark still preferred route in RichmondBostic: It makes no sense to renovate The Diamond; Richmond baseball study didn't consider renovated Diamond, stacks deck for new downtown ballpark; Richmond ballpark consulting deal draws criticism; Norwich approves Defenders lease transfer; Richmond to study new ballpark; Defenders ballpark lease transfer on tap for next week; new team for Norwich chosen?; Renovated Diamond may do in RichmondMiLB to Richmond: Show us the ballpark plan; Richmond group applies for permission to buy team; New Richmond ballpark would rely on sales-tax rebates; Richmond group says it's close to buying team

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