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Date Posted: 20:16:07 08/01/02 Thu
Here's more FL news, pertaining to the Johnnies
You will need to copy and paste the whole two lines into your URL browser as I don't know how to make a link.
Johnstown Johnnies owner Tom Sullivan entered the Point Stadium press box 90 minutes into Tuesday night’s Frontier League game and asked to borrow a pen and paper from a reporter.
Sullivan left the box and returned a few minutes later with a hand-written statement intended to address rumors about the team and questions fans had asked the owner as the current nine-game homestand progressed.
“Regarding the future of the Johnnies, I would like to correct some inaccuracies, unfounded and uninformed rumors.
“Hopefully, the Johnnies will remain in Johnstown, but at this time the location of this franchise in 2003 is uncertain.
“In my opinion there will be a Frontier League team in Johnstown next season. The only certainty is that I will neither move the Johnnies nor have any part in such a move.”
The Johnnies have a lease with the city of Johnstown through the 2003 season. Sullivan has had a history of making late lease payments, but has paid the city.
Earlier this year, Sullivan disclosed that an unidentified investor bought 15 percent of the team, enabling him to keep the franchise in Johnstown.
Last week, Sullivan was hit with a $124,743 federal tax lien filed by the Internal Revenue Service at Cambria County Courthouse in Ebensburg, a situation that might have rekindled the rumor mill surrounding the team.
“I’m trying to set the record straight. That’s the bottom line,” Sullivan said, when asked why he issued the statement to the newspaper. “But there’s only so much I can say. It doesn’t do any good to have false rumors flying around. I asked someone where he heard the rumor (the team was moving) and he said the Dubois County bus driver told him. What does the Dubois County bus driver know? That’s when I figured I had to say something.
“I can’t say we will be here or we won’t be here. If anyone is saying the team is sold, the team is moving, they’re wrong.”
The Johnnies’ announced average attendance of 951 ranked 10th in the 12-team league prior to last night’s game against Evansville (Ind.).
Despite the low attendance, Sullivan said the team financially is in a similar situation as in the past few years.
“It’s better because I cut the expenses dramatically,” he said. “The revenue is the same, but the expenses have been cut dramatically.”
When asked what it would take for the Johnnies to play in Johnstown next season, Sullivan said, “The only honest answer to that is I honestly don’t know.
“We’ll look at everything at the end of the year.”
Sullivan wouldn’t confirm whether he is seeking additional investors, or if his current investor might play an expanded role next season. The attendance numbers and financial situation, as well as some of his comments, seem to indicate Sullivan needs additional financial backing to keep the team here.
“Maybe there will be a decision to buy me out and move it,” Sullivan said. “Maybe the decision will be made to put more money into it and keep it here.
“The main point I’m trying to get across is that it’s far from a foregone conclusion that the team is moving out of town. There are a lot of rumors around town that the team is moving. As far as right now is concerned, the team is here next year. There are no plans to move it.”
But Sullivan admitted he couldn’t guarantee the team will be here next year, as he had done during past seasons when rumors surfaced.
“I can’t say for a fact that we’ll definitely be here next year, as I always have in the past,” the owner said. “Something has got to happen. The possibility of that ‘something’ happening could be anything.”
The most persistent rumor is that the team has been or will be sold to a new owner who will relocate the franchise to northern Kentucky, Sullivan said.
“You can’t move them to a high school field, you can’t move them to an American Legion field. There are only so many stadiums around,” Sullivan said. “There is a group in Kentucky that would like a Frontier League franchise. Not only do they not have a stadium, they don’t even have the land for a stadium.
“(Yet) I’m being told that I’ve sold the team to a group in Kentucky and they’re moving the team there.”
His current unnamed investor’s role with the team also remains uncertain, Sullivan said.
“He bought a percentage of the team and he’s trying to decide how deeply involved he wants to get,” Sullivan said. “Whether he wants to buy the whole thing or sit where he is now. That’s going to be discussed after the season.”
©Tribune Democrat 2002
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