CHARLOTTE, N.C. — George Shinn, owner of the NBA expansion franchise set to begin play in Charlotte in 1988, has purchased a minor-league baseball team there and hopes to attract more clubs to the North Carolina city.
Shinn signed an agreement Wednesday to purchase the Charlotte O's, the Baltimore Orioles' Double-A affiliate, from long-time owners Jim and Frances Crockett.
"My commitment is to bring quality sports to Charlotte," Shinn said of his new acquisition.
"Jim and Frances had an opportunity to sell this team to outside people, and probably would have made more money. Part of our contract was that I would keep the team here."
Under the purchase contract, Shinn has promised to keep the club in Charlotte, where it has lost money in recent years, according to the city's Chamber of Commerce.
In April, Shinn and three partners paid the NBA expansion fee of $32.5 million for the Hornets, who begin play in the 1988-89 season.
The Crocketts have owned the O's or the past 12 years. But the Crocketts threatened to move the team from Charlotte this year when negotiations broke down on the construction of a new playing facility for the team. The team has been without a permanent home since Crockett Park burned down in 1985.
"The good news is that Charlotte has a new baseball owner who will keep baseball in Charlotte," Jim Crockett said. "The bad news is that we are now out of baseball. It has been a labor of love."
Shinn said the O's will continue to play in the temporary Crockett Park facility next year. After that, Shinn will talk to business and government leaders, Southern League officials and other advisers to find a facility for the team.
Shinn, who said he would like some day to bring major league baseball and professional football to Charlotte, decribed himself as "a dreamer," but said he believed searching for a major league-sized facility for the O's would be premature.
"If we get the support that I hope we get, then we grow from that," Shinn said. "My goal presently is to have the best Double-A franchise not only in the Southern League, but in the whole country."