Selig Claims Teams in Trouble

Saturday, May 18th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Commissioner Bud Selig claims 25 percent of major league teams could go out of business if the sport's economic system isn't changed.

``I would say 6-to-8 can't exist another year, another year and a half,'' Selig said Thursday during a meeting with editors and reporters of the Los Angeles Times. ``We're talking about the immediate future. There's a lot of clubs that simply can't survive the status quo.''

No major league baseball team has folded since the National League cut from 12 teams to eight after the 1899 season. The last two times teams went bankrupt, both found buyers: Selig led a group that bought the Seattle Pilots in 1970 and moved them to Milwaukee, and Peter Angelos purchased the Baltimore Orioles for $173 million in 1993.

Selig did not identify any endangered teams and said he is through trying to ``prop them up'' on his own with loans from baseball's central fund or his own financial connections.

He called that the one area where he has been criticized the most internally _ from owners of the more stable teams and his own staff.

``I'm out of that business,'' Selig said. ``The lines of credit those clubs have will still exist, but most are out of credit. They're at the max.

``Baseball has $4 billion of debt, the bankers are nervous and the losses are very real. You know how serious the problem is when 6-to-8 clubs are for sale, including the Angels.''