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Counties continue spat; SWB Yankees likely to be sold this week

PNC Field

It’s increasingly likely that the New York Yankees and Mandalay Baseball will exercise their option to buy the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Class AAA; International League) before a Friday deadline, but that’s not stopping the owners of the team, Lackawanna and Luzerne counties, from squabbling over the proceeds.

You know the drill. Lackawanna and Luzerne counties jointly own the SWB Yankees after putting up a million each to buy the franchise in 1986. The purchase agreement also specifies that the two counties would split the proceeds of any future sale.

The issue: Lackwanna County is arguing that it should be paid back monies it put into the Lackawanna County Multi-Purpose Stadium Authority; any proceeds after that would be split equally. Trouble is, the agreement doesn’t specify whether gross or net proceeds are involved and is silent on the issue of paying back any money Lackwanna County put into the team or PNC Field. Hence a lawsuit from Luzerne County, asking a court to strictly enforce the terms of the purchase agreement.

It’s a pending issues because it looks increasingly like the Yankees and Mandalay Baseball will exercise their option to buy the team for $13 million; if the pair do not, the price increased to $14.6 million after October 1. An Class AAA International League team for $13 million is a pretty good price, especially when there’s not a long-term or pricey ballpark lease attached to the deal.

Pennsylvannia Gov. Ed Rendell has intervened again, asking the two sides to come to some sort of agreement. But it looks as though both sides are entrenched and are actually looking forward to a court battle over the money. The more this drags on the richer the lawyers will get, decreasing the amount the two sides could potentially put into a new ballpark. Rendell is dangling $20 million in state money toward a new ballpark if the two counties match the amount, but we’ve heard there’s now a deadline attached to the offer — and that deadline is sooner than you think.

RELATED STORIES: 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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