Five months after the US-based Israel Baseball League disappeared from the local sports scene, the Israel Association of Baseball announced Wednesday that it has entered into negotiations with a group of "prominent North American sportsmen" who are planning to develop a new professional baseball league here. According to an IAB statement, the group will operate under an American company formed for the purpose of developing the league. The statement said the group hopes to establish "a fully staffed professional baseball league in the next one or two years". The IAB is an Israeli organization that operates under the authority of the Ministry of Science, Culture Sport. The new group is headed by Marv Goldklang, a part owner of the New York Yankees and principal owner of four minor league professional baseball teams in the United States. Jeff Rosen, owner of the Maccabi Haifa Heat of Israel's Basketball Super League and other "prominent individuals involved in Major League Baseball and other sports endeavors" will also be involved. Under an initial agreement with the IAB which gives the group exclusive rights to running pro baseball in Israel, additional and improved baseball facilities appropriate for the game at the professional level will be built if the league is launched. "The IAB is very excited about working with Marv Goldklang and his partners," said Haim Katz, IAB Chairman. "Marv has over 25 years of experience with Major League-affiliated professional baseball leagues, and with independent professional leagues as well. "We feel the concepts that he promotes in sports, including unique entertainment features designed to appeal even to non-baseball fans, can revolutionize not only baseball in Israel, but other sports as well." Professional baseball was first launched in Israel in the form of the IBL in the summer of 2007. It included six teams sharing three fields and completing a 46-game schedule. Although the league was a limited success, it failed to become financially viable and those behind it left the country with many unpaid bills. The IBL planned to return for a second season last summer with the backing of American businessman David Solomont. But in the run-up to the proposed start date the season was continually shortened. Eventually a three-week exhibition season was announced but this was then changed to a three-day clinic which never came to fruition. Katz admitted the IAB has taken the failure of the IBL into account. "The IAB has learned many lessons from its experience with the IBL and our decision to move forward with this new group was not taken lightly," said Katz. "We feel this group is composed of high-caliber, professional, experienced and very reputable individuals. They are not spending other people's money but investing their own at this point and performing all the necessary groundwork required to protect their potential investment and develop a viable structure for professional baseball in Israel. "We have no doubt that there is no better group to carry out this task and we look forward to building baseball in Israel with them."