Two of the Washington area's most prominent sports figures, attorney Donald Dell and boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, are among the investors in a group seeking a baseball expansion franchise for RFK Stadium, the group's organizer, John Akridge, said yesterday.
Akridge, a Washington developer, provided other details about the group that he, Dell and Sovran Bank President Robert Pincus have been organizing, but he declined to identify the other 10 to 12 investors he said have committed enough money to allow the group to apply for one of the two teams the National League will add in 1993.
Responses to a questionnaire distributed by the NL Expansion Committee and a $100,000 deposit on the $95 million entry fee must be submitted by noon Tuesday. Committee chairman Douglas Danforth of the Pittsburgh Pirates said this week he expects at least 14 to 16 groups will file applications. The NL distributed questionnaires to 26 groups representing 10 cities.
The Washington area also likely will be reprsented by Capital Region Baseball Inc., which would like to initially locate a team at RFK Stadium, then move to a new facility in Northern Virginia. Miami, Phoenix and Tampa-St. Petersburg also are expected to be represented by more than one group. Buffalo, Denver and Orlando, Fla., are expected to be represented by at least one group.
Akridge said all of his group's current investors live in the Washington area, but he is speaking to prospective investors in other areas. He said none of the investors has a majority interest "or even close to that."
He said he is managing general partner of the Metropolitan Washington Baseball Limited Partnership, although there are "several" investors who have committed more money than he has.
He said the group has not reached its goals of $125 million in cash and 25 percent minority investment, but has enough money to proceed, with about 15 percent of that money coming from minority interests. Prospective investors have been asked to commit at least $5 million, Akridge said, but some have committed less.
Leonard falls into the latter category, said Akridge, who added Leonard will be involved with the group's youth activities. Dell, a native Washingtonian and founder of the Arlington-based sports management and marketing firm ProServ, confirmed he would be investing, but said he has not decided in what amount. ProServ represents many of the world's top professional tennis and basketball players and promotes events around the world, but Dell said he had been approaching potential investors in this area only.
Akridge said uncertainty about his group's final composition was one reason he would provide only a general characterization of the current investors.
"They are businessmen and professionals," he said, "heads of companies, that kind of the thing. We don't have a mega-person involved. I think it's a good mix.
"We have an objective other than making money," he said. "The real objective for us is doing things with youth involvement. There are so many opportunities we will have to do things for youths, it's limitless."
Akridge indicated his group may be somewhat fluid for the time being.
"We have a core group that wants to go forward," he said, "but we want to craft the best possible applicant from Major League Baseball's point of view and from our point of view. We will be masssaging the investor group as we go forward. We will be looking for other investors until Major League Baseball says stop or until we think we have the best possible group."
In another development, Capital Region Baseball President Mark Tracz said yesterday his group has contacted officials in Pompano Beach, Fla., about using Pompano Beach Municipal Stadium as a spring training site. The Washington Senators trained at Pompano Beach and continued to do so as the Texas Rangers. They now train in Port Charlotte, Fla. Tracz also said his group has inquired about purchasing one of two Class AAA franchises that will be added in 1992.
The issues of spring training site availability and prospective minor league system are addressed in the NL expansion questionnaire.