Fort Worth Cats need late rally

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on October 27, 2011 at 11:15 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 28 at 12:54 AM

FORT WORTH — Fort Worth is in danger of losing its oldest sports team, the Fort Worth Cats. Since 1888, the team has survived two world wars, the Great Depression, and a fire at LaGrave Field in 1949.

The historic park could close its gates in 2012 if the team doesn't find a new league or new owners.

The American Association of Professional Baseball has revoked the Cats' membership, saying the team didn't provide its required $200,000 letter of credit.

Former City Council member Jim Lane fears baseball fans are about to lose the Cats.

"They'll all be like me," Lane said. "We'll sit down and cry because if we lose the team, we will never get it back.

Cats owner Carl Bell said the league misrepresented the facts. He said the Fort Worth Cats are currently involved in negotiations with serious parties regarding the transfer of ownership and the future of the baseball team.

He adds the team fully intends to play at LaGrave field in 2012, but sources tell News 8 that those negotiations are fragile.

Lane told News 8 the team can make money on baseball operations, but re-building the stadium in 2001 became a financial burden when the economy collapsed. He wants the Fort Worth Sports Authority to buy the park from the Cats and lease it back.

Lane said it would provide a public venue for concerts and events, and preserve a piece of Cowtown history.

"I hope whatever Carl is working on, works out for him," Lane said. "But more importantly, I hope it works out for Fort Worth."

The American Association said it would like to have a team in Fort Worth, and it will look for new owners. If new ownership is not in place soon, the Cats' roster will be dissolved and players will be drafted by the remaining teams.

Bell called the Cats an integral part of the fabric of Fort Worth, and said it would be a shame if the team is not saved.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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