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Ripken Negotiating Basketball Team

February 29, 2000

BALTIMORE (AP) _ Cal Ripken is deep into negotiations to take over primary ownership of the Baltimore BayRunners of the International Basketball League.

The Baltimore Orioles third baseman already owns approximately 10 percent of the team. The IBL owns the rest of the first-year minor league franchise.

``Both sides have had very serious discussions,″ IBL vice president Gregg Burke said Tuesday. ``Cal and his representatives are very interested in pursuing this as far as they possibly can.″

Ripken is in Florida for spring training, but he has been represented in the negotiations by Ira Rainess, an official for the Ripken-owned Tufton Group. Rainess said the potential ownership group includes several businessmen in the Baltimore community.

``Cal got into this thing because he loves basketball, and he wants to be part of a pro team in Baltimore,″ Rainess said. ``We’ve been exploring a possible deal over the past couple of weeks. We’re going to spend more time with them at the end of the week to see if a deal can be made.″

Ripken made his initial investment in November, shortly before the eight-team IBL started its inaugural season.

``From the time Cal first bought into the league, his thought was to wade into the water instead of diving in. He wanted to see the league’s potential for success,″ Burke said.

The BayRunners sold out their season opener in November, and Ripken was among those in attendance. The team is averaging less than 4,000 fans per game, but the addition of Ripken as the majority owner will probably give the BayRunners more visibility in the area.

``Cal has a fierce love for this area and loves sports,″ Burke said. ``I think he has always felt the team should be owned by Baltimore people. This appears to be a way for Cal to do something for Baltimore and expand his business interests.″

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