By Clay Fowler
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen may have a professional baseball team to call its own come May 2007.
The Continental Baseball League, an independent start-up league targeting mid-sized communities in an eight-state Southwest region, has narrowed the list of potential franchise hosting cities from 42 to 20. Killeen is on the short list, according to league President and CEO Ron Baron.
Circa two months from now, six to 12 cities will call themselves home to teams, said Baron, who met with the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce three weeks ago and will again in early July.
"We are fairly close to securing facilities in Killeen," said Baron, who declined to name the potential venue. "Once that is taken care to then we can move forward in the pursuit of ownership."
Baron, the Dallas-based founder of The Center for Sports Law and Management, Inc., is attempting to provide an affordable baseball option for families not otherwise able to attend today's pricey sporting events. CBL tickets will range from $5-$12.
Killeen-area based professional sporting franchises do not have a glowing history, but none have been of the baseball variety.
The lifespan of Belton-based minor league hockey teams, the Central Texas Stampede (1996-2001), Blackhawks (2002-2004) and Marshals (2004-05) lessened with each attempt. Financial struggles severed the Indoor Football League's Belton-based Texas Bullets' inaugural season of 1998 with three games remaining. However, the CenTex Barracudas' inaugural season in the Intense Football League seems to be running smoothly in Belton.
"We love the Killeen community," said Baron. "The interest in baseball is strong and with the military and merging population base we think if we can provide some local entertainment, it will be appreciated."
There is something that sets the CBL apart from any other baseball league, something designed to keep fans in the seats until the game is over. The first home run hit by the trailing team in the seventh inning, and seventh inning only, will count for double the runs, thus a grand slam will be an eight-run home run.
"I could only imagine the look on Tommy Lasorda's or Billy Martin's face if some guy clocked an eight-run homer off one of their pitchers," said Jay Johnstone, a former 20-year major leaguer and the CBL's team relations director.
Johnstone, along with league operations and communications director Bob Ibach, a former public relations director for the Chicago Cubs, and marketing director Laura Kath, comprise the CBL front office.
Opening day for the 80-game, 13-week season is slated to be around Memorial Day 2007.
Contact Clay Fowler at email@example.com