Eugene Thomas, owner of the Alexandria Dukes, said yesterday that he is considering selling the baseball club to a West Virginia businessman who would move it to Charleston and that he also has had an offer from a stadium authority in Newport News.
Thomas also said he plans to discuss the possibility of moving the team to a site in Fairfax County with Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman John F. Herrity before making any final decision on where the club will play next year. Herrity said he is thinking about making an offer to the Dukes but that nothing firm has been agreed on and that any offer would have to be approved by the supervisors.
Thomas, who has been unhappy with the Dukes' current playing field at Alexandria's Four Mile Run Park, met Tuesday with the Prince William Board of Supervisors. In an effort to attract the Dukes, the supervisors offered to make major improvements to a new baseball field being built near Manassas. Thomas told the county supervisors he would have an answer for them by Monday.
But yesterday Thomas said he has discussed selling the team to Carl Steinfeldt of Charleston, W.Va., who recently sold the Triple A Charleston Charlies to a Maine business concern that plans to move the team to Portland. The Dukes, a Class A minor league club, play in the Carolina League and are a farm club affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Thomas said Steinfeldt told him he is prepared "to make a substantial offer" for the Dukes. But Steinfeldt told a reporter yesterday, "at this time we are only in the process of talking. I have made overtures. I have told him we are interested."
In Newport News, Herbert Morewitz, a member of the local stadium authority, said he has spoken with Thomas about the possibility of moving the team there. He said he would recommend giving the Dukes a lease similar to one currently held by the Peninsula Pilots of the Carolina League--the team would pay $1 a year in rent and make $5,000 in required improvements to the playing field.
The Pilots, he said, are considering moving out of Newport News. "I told Mr. Thomas we would be very happy to have his team here, but the next move is up to him," Morewitz said.
Since the team was founded in 1978, it has played at Four Mile Run Park, but Thomas has complained that the field is inadequate because it lacks sufficient seating and parking and because beer cannot be sold on the premises because the property belongs to the Board of Education. Since the Alexandria City Council voted last month not to build a new stadium for the club, he has been actively seeking another location.