BASEBALL GROUP HAS OHIO TIES

Mandalay officials are from Cleveland


Published: Thursday, February 5, 1998
Page: 1B
By Laura A. Bischoff Dayton Daily News
METRO TODAY



If you want an idea of what the new downtown baseball group, Mandalay Sports Entertainment, does, tune into ABC Sunday night and watch Bad As I Wanna Be: The Dennis Rodman Story .

Mandalay produced the made-for-TV movie, along with big-screen movies Seven Years in Tibet and Donnie Brasco .

The Los Angeles area based company also owns the International Hockey League Las Vegas Thunder, an AM radio station in Ontario, Calif., a sports marketing company, two Indy car racing teams, a NASCAR racing team and baseball teams in Las Vegas, Rancho Cucamonga and Lake Elsinore, Calif.

Mandalay officials announced this week they plan to buy Dayton Professional Baseball Club from Chicago-area investor Sherrie Myers and then move the Midwest League's Rockford (Ill.) Cubbies to a downtown Dayton stadium. Two-time Heisman trophy winner Archie Griffin is expected to be a minority owner in the franchise.

Mandalay Managing Director Ken Stickney said Myers contacted Mandalay about a week ago and proposed the deal.

Mandalay was formed about a year ago with Peter Guber, former chairman of Sony Pictures. It allowed for the consolidation of the separately held sports teams under one company, he said.

Ken Stickney and his father, Hank Stickney, have strong Ohio ties. Their family endowed the tennis center at Ohio State University. Hank grew up in Cleveland and was stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the late 1960s.

After Hank Stickney retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1977, he started Western Medical Specialty Corp., which specialized in home health care. In 1986, INC. magazine named Stickney entrepreneur of the year.

In 1988, Ken Stickney and his brother, Doug, started another health care company, took it public, built it into a $900 million enterprise and sold it in 1993. "I never thought I'd work again until I met (Peter) Guber and got into this deal (with Mandalay)," Ken Stickney said.

Hank Stickney turned to professional sports team ownership in late 1980s and now sits on the board of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues Inc. - one of the agencies required to approve a team in downtown Dayton.

Mandalay plans to step into the Myers deal with Dayton to build a $22.7 million stadium. On Friday, the company expects to substitute Stickney for Myers in the application pending before the National Association and Major League Baseball.

While Ken and Hank Stickney maintain the approval process should be swift, Sports Spectrum Inc. vice president Rich Ehrenreich disagrees.

Ehrenreich, the spokesman for the Trotwood group, said "There is a process that they are trying to usurp." He added that local investors have contacted an attorney to examine the situation.

Ehrenreich maintains that Dayton Professional Baseball Club will have to go back to the Midwest League and start over.

Midwest League attorney Dick Nussbaum said Mandalay stepping in for Myers is an unusual situation and there is no set process. It will likely require league review, but it will start at the National Association and Major League Baseball, he said. What this all means for Sports Spectrum's efforts vs. Mandalay's application is unclear, Nussbaum said.

Nussbaum, Ehrenreich and others said Mandalay's reputation in the baseball industry is strong based on their track record. Cincinnati Reds managing executive John Allen said Wednesday he had no comment. Meanwhile, Dayton city commissioners approved Wednesday night an urban redevelopment plan that will allow for a baseball stadium and spin-off businesses and housing in an area just east of downtown. Commissioners will likely rezone the area in early March.

* CONTACT Laura Bischoff at 225-2446 or e-mail her at laura_bischoff@coxohio.com







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