The head of baseball's minor leagues said yesterday there is virtually no chance that Alexandria will get a AAA franchise next spring, as sought by the city's mayor.
Bobby Bragan, president-treasurer of the National Association of Professional Baseball Clubs, said the International League, under whose geographical jurisdiction Alexandria would fall, has decided against expansion.
That was what Bragan said is a second interview with a reporter yesterday. Earlier, he was of the opinion that Alexandria's chances of landing a minor league club were "good". There is supposition that between the two conversations Bragan's arm had been twisted. He said, however, that he had not talked with baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn between interviews.
"It doesn't look good for Alexandria," Bragan said the second time. "The momentum has shifted in the other direction and there is a reluctance on the part of the International League to expand."
Asked if Alexandria's prospects were "dead," Bragan responded, "I would have to say so."
Bragan said the situation changed after he polled the members of the International League and found they had reversed their opinions on expansion.
Until yesterday, AAA clubs affiliated with the Cleveland Indians, Oakland A's and Milwaukee Brewers were undecided on where to play next year. The Brewer's club agreed yesterday to return to Spokane.
Five cities, in addition to Alexandria, in the American Association and the Pacific Coast League, are vying for the Oakland-Cleveland AAA hookups.
But Alexandria mayor Frank Mann said yesterday he felt the plan was still alive."These are smart businessmen," Mann said of the baseball executives he had been talking to. "They're not going to close any doors."
Mann said he has not heard about Bragan's remarks and still considered the situation "Very fluid."
Kuhn has committed himself to returning major league baseball to Washington and there were some fears in the area yesterday that could be jeopardized by Mann's plan.
Mann announced Tuesday that he was hoping to help buy a AAA club to play at the city's George Washington Secondary School next spring.
Mann's proposal brings up the question of indemnification. Should a team move to Alexandria, any subsequent major league team in Washington would have to pay to move into the territory. However, the Alexandria team apparently would not have to pay the Baltimore Orioles to move into suburban Washington.
"I'm leaving that out of it," said Mann. "I don't want any distractions."
Alexandria City Council members reacted cautiously yesterday to Mann's proposal. Although most members of the Council agreed with the proposal in concept, they added that serious problems existed. Among the problems cited were the possibility that major league baseball may come back to Washington and the economic effect this would have on an Alexandria team.
Where the team would locate in the city is another major problem. The city has no stadium at present adequate for a minor league club.
Simpson Stadium, somewhat of a misnomer for a Little League playing field at Monroe Street and Rte. 1 with seating capacity for several hundred people, and the field behind the George Washington Secondary School had been proposed as sites for a stadium. But Councilwomen Ellen Pickering and Nora O. Lamborne expressed reservations at building a stadium on either site.
Yet another potential problem is the apparent confusion over whether the city or the school board owns the land adjacent to the George Washington school.