Friday, September 29, 2023
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Tussle Over Sale of Minor League Ball Team

TUCSON (CN) - An investor says the former owner of the Tucson Sidewinders Minor League Baseball team refused to honor a contract giving him the right to buy 10 percent of the team, just Tucson Baseball sold the team for $15 million. The Pacific Coast League team now operates as the Reno Aces.

David Smallhouse of Primo Ventures wants a Pima County Court judge to compel Tucson Baseball and Jay Zucker to enter arbitration. The Sidewinders, and now the Aces, are a farm team for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Smallhouse says Zucker has been "intransigent" since 2007, when he "insisted that he would not recognize exercise of the option for the sharing in the proceeds of the pending sale of the franchise."

Smallhouse says he invested $1 million in the franchise in 2004 with an option to buy another 10 percent of the company. As the franchise was being sold in 2007, Smallhouse says he tried to exercise the option, but Zucker refused.

Zucker sold the Sidewinders to Reno's SK Baseball LLC that year for $15 million, according to media accounts.

Smallhouse says Zucker told him he had breached the agreement and could not exercise the option, but Smallhouse says this was an excuse, as "the company no longer needed the money because of the transaction that was in the works."

Smallhouse says his attorney persuaded him to not to press the issue until after the sale. Since then Zucker has remained unmoved, causing an arbitrator to "throw up his hands," the complaint states.

Smallhouse wants the court to order Zucker to return to arbitration. He is represented by Michael Rusing with Rusing & Lopez.

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