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Published October 13 2010

American Association commissioner says RedHawks applied for membership

American Association Commissioner Miles Wolff confirmed to the Winnipeg Free Press on Tuesday that Fargo-Moorhead is one of four Northern League teams to apply to enter the AA next season.

“That’s what we’re here to decide – if that’s something we want to do,” Wolff told the Free Press from the American Association meeting in Dallas. “It’s not up to me, it’s up to the members to decide. But I look at the geography and the strength of the (Northern League) teams involved and there are a lot of good arguments to be made for it.”

RedHawks CEO Brad Thom would not confirm Tuesday that his team is leaving the Northern League.

However, Thom hinted in a text message to The Forum that a big announcement is on the horizon.

“We are continuing to meet,” Thom said. “We are diligently working on all details and issues, and should be issuing a release tomorrow at noon. Then we will be ready to talk.”

Wolff said league members were scheduled to vote on the applicants Tuesday or today.

“We’ve had talks and we’ve had discussions, but this isn’t a rubber stamp” he said. “We’re meeting and should know something definite in the next 24 hours.”

F-M, Winnipeg, Kansas City and Gary are the second group of Northern League members to attempt to bolt to the American Association in the last five years.

St. Paul, Sioux Falls, Sioux City and Lincoln also defected to the upstart AA following the 2005 season.

The American Association was re-formed as an independent baseball league in 2005.

Representatives from the AA and the four Northern League clubs are likely negotiating the make-up of a new-look league’s divisions, salary cap concerns and player designation rules.

The Northern League and American Association differ slightly in several key areas.

The NL has a salary cap of $130,000, while the American Association is at $110,000, according the Northern League Director of Operations Harry Stavrenos.

If four teams leave, the once-robust Northern League appears to be on shaky ground as it dwindles to four.

The expected sale of Schaumburg recently fell through as the team undergoes financial trouble. The Flyers reportedly owe almost $1 million in unpaid rent, utilities and overdue interest for its use of Alexian Field.

Joliet’s former owners –the team was recently sold – reportedly had more than $100,000 in bills and owed more than $200,000 to the city for use of Silver Cross Field.

Construction of the permanent stadium of the expansion Lake County Fielders in Zion, Ill., has endured several delays.

Rockford entered the Northern League last year as an expansion team.

NL commissioner Clark Griffith told the Free Press that the league will continue despite the turmoil.

“We’ll play next year,” he said. “We’ll have something in place. We have good teams, good locations. … The Northern League isn’t going away.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com