League approves team sale to Marion attorney

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

MARION, Ill. -- Minor-league baseball's Midwest League on Monday agreed to the sale of one of its Indiana teams to a group headed by a prominent Illinois attorney but took no action on the group's possible push to move the club to southern Illinois.

The Midwest League's board of directors last month tabled the possible sale of the South Bend Silver Hawks to John Simmons' Chautauqua Heights LLC, saying it needed more details from Simmons and offering him a chance to resubmit his proposal for the Class A team.

During a meeting Monday in Chicago, the board of the 14-team league signed off on the Simmons group's application of a "control interest transfer" but "took no action to approve or disapprove the relocation [of the team] at this time," the league said in a brief news release.

Simmons, who attended Monday's meeting, deferred immediate comment about its outcome, citing the sensitivity of the still-unfinished talks.

George Spelius, commissioner of the Midwest League, based in Beloit, Wis., did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Monday's development comes as Simmons presses on with construction of a $16 million Marion ballpark he has said he hopes to have opened by the start of the 2007 season -- with a Midwest League team in place there. Marion is located about 100 miles southeast of St. Louis.

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