The president of the Carolina League said yesterday there is a "good possibility" his league will place a minor league baseball franchise in Alexandria for the 1978 season.
"We'd like to have them," said Jim Mills, president of the six-team Class A league. "As far as I'm concerned, until they tell me no, they've got a franchise.
Alexandria mayor Frank Mann, whose attempts to secure a AAA franchise fell through last October, said yesterday he has met with Mills and that he is trying to "act as a catalyst to get this thing going."
Mann said the team would be financed by "a number of individuals on a very small investment basis. Yes, I would be involved in a very small way, but there is no conflict of interest whatsoever. There's no idea of getting rich on this. We just have a number of people who want to see professional baseball back in this area."
Mann said he would present his case to the Alexandria City Council Tuesday and to the School Board Wednesday in an attempt to get their approval for leasing of city facilities to the baseball franchise.
Mann said he would like the baseball team to operate out of facilities at the old Cora Kelley School at the northern end of Commonwealth Avenue near the Arlington County line.
The school has a lighted fenced field, with a sprinkler system, and could be expanded to meet the needs of a minor league operation.
Mann said a 2,000-seat park would suffice for now and that the team could break even by attracting 500 or 600 fans for the 60- to 70-game home schedule. The Carolina League season runs from April 14 until Sept. 1.
Mann estimated it would cost about $50,000 to upgrade the field and that the project would also be part of a major renovation in the Cora Kelley area for a park and recreational facility for the city.
"The sponsors of the team would incur all the costs," Mann said. "There would be no cost to the city for the baseball team."
Carolina League president Mills, meanwhile, said he estimated sponsors of the new team would have to invest bwtween $140,000 to $160,000 in the new franchise for all operating costs.
The Carolina League operated with four major league-sponsored franchises last year - Winston-Salem, N.C. (Boston); Salem, Va. (Pittsburgh); Lynchburgh, Va. (N.Y. Mets); and Newport News, Va. (Philadelphia). The league has awarded a franchise to Kinston, N.C., for the 1978 season.
Mills said the Alexandria franchise would not be affiliated with any major league team, but that it would be stocked by players under contract to major league clubs. Kinston will also be an independent operation, he said.
"We'd like to get some local, area boys on the team," said Mills, adding that minimum salary for Carolina League players is $400 a month and $6.50 a day for meals.
Les Peden, who played in 28 games as a catcher for the 1953 Washington Senators, would be the manager, Mills said.