Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Foul ball! Solomont challenges some debt claims against the Israel Baseball League as "questionable"

In a new tactic against those who claim they're owed more than $1,500,000 in wake of the Israel Baseball League’s first and thus far only season in 2007, new “in-coming president” and “major shareholder” David Solomont says that some of the longstanding claims by vendors and others are “questionable.”

In an interview posted online today by the San Diego Jewish World, Solomont again promises that the IBL’s two-week baseball show festival will go on as planned on August 14th.
The controversial Boston businessman also restates his intention to play winter ball in Israel and to make the country “the Dominican Republic of the Middle East.”

Among the highlights:

“Solomont, a Massachusetts-based venture capitalist who describes himself as a big Boston Red Sox fan, said he has been pulling together investors who will pay off the IBL’s outstanding debts while at the same time paving the way for winter ball in Israel’s Negev Desert and the resumption of six-team summer play in 2009”;

“The American investor said he could have suggested to the previous group of owners of the Israel Baseball League that they simply declare bankruptcy and then he could have started a new league fresh. However, he said, he felt the right thing to do was to pay off the debts that were accumulated by the group headed by Larry Baras”;

“Solomont praised Baras as a visionary, who like those involved in manykinds of start-up enterprises, had inufficient inforrmation about the real costs. He said $2 million (rather than $1 million) in capitalization would have been more prudent and would have avoided some of the problems that the League now faces in paying off creditors”;

“As a new owner, he said, he believes he must exercise “due diligence” in examining claims made by creditors, some of which are questionable, he said. 

At the same time, he said in a telephone interview, to bring in new investment into the League, he cannot solely pay off old debts, but also must begin spending money to assure future programming and revenues”;

The paper prints part of a letter from the chief executive officer of the at Kfar Hayarok agricultural school, where approximately 100 IBL players and coaches were housed. Hayarok says the school is still owed $170,000 and says in the letter:

…At the end of the hosting period, Larry Baras… informed us that some of the League investors’ money had not reached him and therefore he was returning to the U.S. to raise the money as promised. He left us a cheque for the remaining debt dated September 9, 2007.

“A few days before the payment date, we were informed that there was still no money in the league’s account and we were told to wait until we received a confirmation from Larry to deposit the cheque.

The debt that has been left is more than $170,000.

“We have held talks with Larry and have been corresponding via email but the debt has not been paid yet….”

Jewish World follows up:

“Solomont, the new owner… said that Baras now is out of the picture… Solomont said that he had not yet sent any money to Hakfar Hayarok but planned to make a good faith payment of $10,000 U.S. this week or next…”

“He said payment to the school might have been quicker but for two glitches that were not the school’s fault. The first was that the paperwork left to him didn’t reflect requested additional services that the IBL received after the contract was signed. Secondly, he said, he at first had difficulty reconciling the numbers because he had been doing the calculations in dollars, while the contract called for payment in shekalim. The Israeli currency has been growing stronger against the U.S. dollar in the last year.

 Solomont said he similarly will review invoices submitted by other creditors, and will work his way through those debts.”

“‘All these organizations ought to be rallying behind the IBL to see what we can all do to make it a success,’ he said. He said he hopes that eventually there will be 12 teams in the Israel Baseball League.

As for winter baseball in the Negev, Solomont said there is no better location for it, given the large number of flights both from Asia and Europe directly to Israel. From the standpoint of winter baseball, said Solomont, Israel could become the 'Dominican Republic of the Middle East.'"

Read the entire article here.

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