Saying there's no chance he'll explore bankruptcy, Worcester Tornadoes (independent; Can-Am League) owner Todd Breighner says the team's balance sheet is in good shape and he will rebound from financial setbacks.
The team was locked out of offices earlier this week after the local Hilton Garden Inn went to court to satisfy a $32,562 bill. This follows other news about debt carried by the team of over $200,000.
Breighner, quiet since the hotel went to court, was in the team office yesterday to pick up personal belonging and met with the Worcester News-Telegram to discuss the team's financial situation. Saying the team was already a half-million dollars in debt when he bought it (a number disputed by former owner Ted Tye), Breighner said the hotel was a little premature on taking the team to court, admitting the Tornadoes was more than 90 days out. From the News-Telegram:
“Why would you file for bankruptcy with a positive balance sheet and cash flow?” said Mr. Breighner, who traveled here from his home in Maryland and spent time yesterday removing personal items from the Tornadoes' Main Street offices....
“This is a bunch of crap from a lawyer running around town,” Mr. Breighner said. “We have a hotel bill. The length on the amount due isn't that long. For whatever reason, (Ms. Melican) is running around town like an ambulance chaser trying to get other vendors worked up.”
The Tornadoes' debt is also said to include roughly $60,000 to the city of Worcester for police and fire details, $50,000 to the College of the Holy Cross for utilities, maintenance and use of Hanover Insurance Park, and $5,000 to Worcester Polytechnic Institute for dormitory rooms for players.
The team may also run into some political issues once the home schedule ends this week, as City Councilor Philip P. Palmieri calls on the city to determine the financial status of the Tornadoes, saying that if the team' not viable, it's time to seek another tenant for Fitton Field and do something to protect vendors owed money by the team:
“Right now, all we know is what has been reported in the paper,” Mr. Palmieri said. “But if we are to keep professional baseball in Worcester, we need more information on the status of the Tornadoes and what is happening with them. If in fact the team cannot be saved, then we need to move quickly to seek out another professional league.
“We cannot sit idly by and watch this happen before our eyes, like what happened with DirectAir,” he added. “We must do everything we can as a city to make sure we do not lose professional baseball in Worcester. We worked too hard to get it back here to lose it like this.”
Meanwhile. Jose Canseco has amended his original lawsuit for nonpayment against the Tornadoes, raising the amount sought to $840,000 and going after assets and properties controlled by some team personnel as well. How a claim for $80,500 ends up being a legal quest for $840,000 is a good question (asking for $49,000 in legal fees is a big part of it, though), and Canseco may be crossing the line from legitimate gripe to silly legal action. You decide; a summary of the lawsuit is here.
Turns out Canseco wasn't being paid a hundred grand per month: his contract -- which you can see here -- called for $14,000 a month plus housing at the aforementioned Hilton Garden Inn and a vehicle.
RELATED STORIES: League may take over Tornadoes; Tornadoes locked out of offices, team shop; More financial woes for W-Tornadoes: team uniforms seized; Canseco sues Worcester Tornadoes over unpaid salary; Indy teams fighting over Canseco?; Canseco signs with Rio Grande; misses first game; Jose Canseco files for bankruptcy; Jose Canseco resurfaces, this time in Worcester
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