|TRAFICANT, James A., Jr.,|
March 4, 1998
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant, Jr. (D–OH) has secured a commitment from Alan Levin, owner of the minor league baseball team looking to make Niles its new home, that Levin will wait until Saturday before making a final decision on where to locate his team. Traficant has been working to put together a deal to build a facility for the team in Niles through a partnership between the city of Niles and Cambridge Investment Group of Beachwood, Ohio. The deal must be approved by the Niles City Council through a series of votes held over the next three days. In the event that the council delays its deliberations, Traficant wants to ensure that Levin does not accept a deal from another community.
Traficant noted that Mr. Levin needs to have a new home for his team by June 1999. In order to have a facility built by then construction must begin this summer. That, in turn, means that financing must be in place within the next week. "Alan Levin has committed to me that, regardless of what the council does, he will give me until Saturday to present him with a viable financial package," said Traficant. In the event that the council rejects the deal or doesn't act, Traficant is working on an alternative plan. Traficant admits that without the participation of the city of Niles getting the project done "will be an uphill struggle."
Traficant said today that he understands the concerns some city councilmen have expressed. However, Traficant emphasized that the deal he structured provides more than adequate protection for the city. "The Moffie brothers of Cambridge Investment Group are part of an innovative and solid plan," said Traficant. "I feel comfortable with them. I support them. The revenue estimates for the facility which have been presented to the council, estimates that are very conservative, are enough to make this deal work," added Traficant. "Some city councilmen need to decide whether or not they will allow the press to make important decisions for them."
Earlier this week, following a marathon session of weekend negotiations between Traficant, Niles city officials, private investors and the team owner, a tentative deal was reached to construct a $7.5 million recreational facility in Niles near Eastwood Mall. Under the terms of the proposal, construction of the facility will be financed by Cambridge Investment Group and the city of Niles. The Cafaro Corporation will donate the land for the facility. Howland Township has agreed to have the city of Niles annex several acres of property. The deal remains tentative pending ratification by the council and the successful negotiation of a long term lease.
The facility will be the new home of Levin's Class A Erie (PA) SeaWolves. Erie is to get a Class AA team. The SeaWolves play in the New York-Penn League. Construction of the facility must begin by this summer so that it is ready for the start of the New York-Penn League's 1999 season. In addition to minor league baseball, Youngstown State University has agreed to rent the facility for its men's baseball games. Other possible uses include local high school playoff baseball games, concerts and fairs.2009