IBL still not granted permission to return

Sources say no permission has been granted for a second season of the IBL, despite reports that it has been resurrected by a new management team.

baseball 298.88 (photo credit: Jay L. Abramoff)
baseball 298.88
(photo credit: Jay L. Abramoff)
Sources at the Israel Association of Baseball said Thursday that no permission has been granted for a second season of the Israel Baseball League, despite the emergence of reports that the IBL has been resurrected by a new management team. In a story carried by the Associated Press on Thursday it was announced that the IBL "would begin play on July 27, about a month behind its original schedule and in abbreviated form." The AP report stated that the abridged season would run for three weeks rather than last year's inaugural 10-week season and would feature four teams in place of last year's six. Former Netanya Tigers player Dan Rootenberg was reported to be the new president of the IBL, apparently replacing Martin Berger. However, the IAB, which is authorized by the Ministry of Science, Culture and Sports to grant licenses for professional baseball in Israel, said there has been no change in the situation reported in The Jerusalem Post last month. On May 29 IAB president Haim Katz told the Post "There will be no league in 2008," adding, "2008 is not happening, 2009 we're working on." According to Katz, the league's problems stemmed largely from a number of Israeli creditors who, he said, had not been paid by the IBL. Thursday's news coincided with the premiere of a documentary, "Holy Land Hardball," chronicling the IBL's first year, in the US. The six-team IBL was founded by Boston-based businessman Larry Baras, and started play in the summer of 2007, featuring Jewish and foreign players selected by personnel director Dan Duquette, the former general manager of the Boston Red Sox. In the three weeks since it was reported that the league would not return, the IBL has rearranged its front office although Berger is still listed as the team's president and COO on the team's Web site. Gary Woolf, who was CEO of the sports management firm Woolf Associates and now runs the consulting company Shiboomi, is also believed to be involved. Katz's reasoning for not allowing the league to return stemmed from the large number of debts the IBL has still yet to pay from last season, including monies owed to the Sportek field in Tel Aviv where around a third of the games were held. However Rootenberg told the Post in an e-mail on Thursday: "We are beginning the process of remuneration of past debt now that the League has been recapitalized." He also said he has "been in contact with the IAB to schedule an upcoming meeting to clear up any confusion," although this was not confirmed by the IAB.