Elks on verge of sale

large_webElks-Powell_091714By: Grant Lucas
The Bulletin

A preliminary agreement has been reached for the sale of the Bend Elks Baseball Club to Let’s Play Ball, LLC, The Bulletin confirmed on Tuesday.

Terms of the proposed deal were not disclosed, but current Elks owner Jim Richards and Let’s Play Ball co-owner John Marick confirmed that the sale would include the Elks summer collegiate team and the Bend Fieldhouse at Vince Genna Stadium. The Bend Fieldhouse, opened in 2009, includes a training facility and a retail store.

Approval from the Bend Park & Recreation District, which owns Genna Stadium, is among the details to be finalized before the sale of the West Coast League team is complete. Owners from each of the 11 other WCL teams voted Aug. 26 and were unanimous in approving the sale of the team to the Maricks, according to Richards.

“One criterium of mine is that it has to be the right buyer for all the right reasons,” Richards said, adding that he believes Let’s Play Ball ownership shares his community-oriented mindset. “We’re very confident that once the park district approval is made, the community will be able to see how these folks plan to take the team and the business and move them forward.”

Richards, 59, who founded the Elks in 2000 and has been the team’s owner and general manager ever since, said that “all particulars have been finalized between buyer and seller.”

He said the last remaining discussions will be between Let’s Play Ball owners — John Marick and his wife, Tami, who live in Portland and own a home in Sunriver — and the Bend park district, including plans for the transfer of the stadium lease from Richards to the Maricks.

The park district’s board of directors must approve the transfer, according to Richards. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for the first week of October, and both Richards and John Marick are hopeful the board will approve the deal at that time.

“There were minor things that we asked the park district to either clarify in the lease or change,” said Marick, 49 and the co-founder and CEO of Portland-based Consumer Cellular, a nationwide provider of mobile phones and services. “Through our verbal conversations, it seems that everybody is in agreement. Now we’re just kind of waiting to get it onto an actual document for everybody to approve.”

While the sale has not been finalized, Richards said this week that he is confident the deal will go through in the next few weeks, especially after the new ownership group followed Richards’ advice by hiring Casey Powell, a longtime Elks coach, as Let’s Play Ball’s first general manager. Marick confirmed Powell’s hiring by Let’s Play Ball and added that when the deal is finalized Powell will officially become general manager of the Elks.

That hiring, Richards said, “is a strong indication they are willing to do right by the team, by the stadium and by the community.”

“For us, the thing that we liked best about it is we do look at it as being a resource for the community — a recreational and entertainment option that we’re able to support personally and in many ways give back to the community,” Marick said. “I think all the things that Jim’s been able to do in providing an affordable family recreation are the things that we’re looking forward to continue to do and even find ways to expand on that.”

—Reporter: 541-383-0307, glucas@bendbulletin.com.

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