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A minor move in the works?

On Tuesday, another obstacle was cleared from the path of the possible move of the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate, the Ottawa Lynx, to Allentown, Pennsylvania. Craig Stein and Joseph Finley, the two businessmen rumored to be interested in buying the Lynx, signed a lease with Lehigh County for the property on which a new minor-league stadium is to be built.

From Wednesday's Morning Call:

The plan to build a $34.3 million minor league stadium in east Allentown for a Class AAA ball club still has a few significant holes. It needs zoning approval from the city and legislative approval of some additional funding before anyone can safely say ''Play ball!''

But one of the major hurdles is out of the way. Craig Stein and Joseph Finley, the baseball entrepreneurs at the heart of the project, have signed a 29-year lease. The partners, who have an agreement of sale for the property and will turn it over to the county, agreed to pay $700,000 a year and contribute an additional $1.35 million over the course of the lease to a capital fund for major repairs and other items.

The county commissioners, who attended the news conference and signed a ceremonial baseball bat, will have their first reading of the lease tonight and vote Oct. 26. If all else goes well, construction will begin in September 2006 and be completed in time for the 2008 season....

For the first time, Finley publicly acknowledged that the team he and Stein are bringing to the Valley is Class AAA, a step below the major leagues. Legislative sources have identified the team as the Ottawa Lynx, top affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, but Finley, bound by a confidentiality agreement, said he can't confirm that.

I wonder where those "legislative sources" got their information. The uncertainty about whether the mystery team is indeed the Lynx is vexing. Anyway, the process continues.


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