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Beetles baseball: Team moving into the league's hands

The Alexandria Beetles could officially change ownership in the coming weeks and what that means for the future of Beetles baseball is starting to come into focus.

Current Beetles owner Shawn Reilly was not able to find an individual or group to buy the team after putting it on the market this past year. That means the organization is currently in the process of being turned over to the Northwoods League (NWL).

It's a process that is being slowed by legal matters. At the forefront of that contention is the almost $90,000 that the current ownership still owes to local vendors. The league knows that getting that debt paid off needs to be one of the first orders of business once the transition is complete.

"We hope it will be done in the next two, three weeks," Radatz said of when the change in ownership could be finalized. "At this point, that's where it stands. Obviously, first things first, Shawn has left a great deal of debt within the community, so we would need to address that. In order to run an effective operation, that would have to be cleaned up."

Reilly said it's not a comfortable situation for anyone involved. Most of those vendors who are waiting to get paid are people he knows personally and have been dependable sponsors with the team under his ownership.

"Our goal was never to leave debt or not be in business," Reilly said. "But it's the reality of it. It's just been disappointing because our goal has always been to find our own buyer, and we didn't do it."

That means the league will likely end up running the team this upcoming summer. Radatz never wanted it to come to that, and he hopes to find an individual or group that can run the team in the future.

"That's always the ideal situation," he said. "They're not always necessarily available. The league doesn't have any desire to run the teams. We will if we have to, but the goal would be to eventually find a buyer."

The good news for fans is that Radatz says he doesn't have any plans to eliminate or relocate the team, despite Alexandria being the smallest market in the NWL. For Beetles fans, what matters most is that the product on the field remains no matter who owns the team in the long run.

"That would be the goal, definitely," Radatz said when asked if he plans to keep the team in Alexandria. "Obviously, they become very valuable geographically with Willmar and St. Cloud in the mix. We're also looking potentially into going to Bismarck, North Dakota, so Alexandria would be key in that transition as well."

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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