United League Baseball is based in the southern United States and is an independent baseball league operated in Texas and Louisiana. Being independent, it is operated in cities not affiliated with Major League Baseball or Minor League Baseball. The league began in 2006 with teams based out of Alexandria, Amarillo, Edinburg, Laredo, Rio Grande and San Angelo.
United Sports Equities, the company that operates the league and is owned by a Florida investor group, which lists Brad Wendt as CEO and his brother Gary Wendt as league principal declared chapter 11 bankruptcy in Broward County (Fla.) court, on December 29, 2008. More specifically, the filing states that United Sports Equities has $264,494.55 of debts, with $22,000 owed in back rent and $60,000 to league founder Byron Pierce, some of the debt are currently disputed. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is the most common form of bankruptcy. “The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing (generally) for reorganization, usually involving a corporation or partnership. (A chapter 11 debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time. People in business or individuals can also seek relief in chapter 11.”
Though the filing does not mean the league would have officially been shut down, it does suggest that the league was/is in serious trouble. There were only 2 teams in 2008 that drew over 100,000 fans, the Amarillo Dillas and the San Angelo Colts. With teams struggling with attendance, the league officials have been dealing with three separate injunctions. The first injunction began on August 28, 2008. “Byron Pierce obtained a temporary restraining order on August 28 in Dallas County District Court against United Sports Equities. The restraining order forces the league to continue operations pending a further court case, barring any dissolution of assets, the sale of teams or the league, or a merger with another league. In the temporary restraining order, the court issued the injunction based on a finding that the independent Golden Baseball League was on the verge of purchasing the assets of United League Baseball”. Pierce and Bryant Co-Founded the league in 2006 but resigned after the conclusion of that season due to disputes with the league’s ownership. Then there is the second injunction, from Harlan Bruha, founder and former owner of the San Angelo Colts baseball franchise. According to Ball Park Digest, the United League is to return the franchise to Bruha because money was siphoned from the San Angelo franchise to prop up United League Baseball franchises, while failing to make scheduled payments to Bruha. When his original team moved from the Central League to the ULB he retained a large stake; 49% in the franchise. The third and final motion involves ULB chief executive officer Brad Wendt, league Principal Gary Wendt and former owner Byron Pierce. This motion consists of promised payments with respect to the buyout of the league.
When the league filed for bankruptcy in late December, it reached a tentative agreement with the Continental Baseball League, to merge with them. According to Brian Sandalor of the Monitor, when reached on Friday, CBL president and CEO Ron Baron said a bidder from Dallas had planned to put the four then-former ULB teams into the CBL for at least one year but were outbid by Reunion Sports Group. Without the UBL teams Baron says he still plans on having six teams in the CBL. “We wish them the best,” Baron said of the ULB teams.
On March 13th 2009, Robert Millbank Jr. the court-appointed trustee for the bankrupt United Sports Equities, submitted two motions in Bankruptcy Court in Dallas, Texas. The first motion asked the court system to approve the sale of the league to Reunion Sports Group LLC, owners and former ULB founders Bryon Pierce and John Bryant for an estimated amount of $325,000. The second motion asked the court to approve the sale of the team at a meeting being called an “expedited hearing request” on March 25, 2009, because of the quick approaching start of the season. If the sale were approved at the hearing on the 25th, the fourth season would begin with Edinburg, Amarillo, San Angelo, and Laredo in the league.
When and if the sale does go through, Bryant and Pierce are going to have a lot of work to do which includes finding a new league President, as ULB president Craig Brasfield left to become the general manager of the Shreveport-Bossier Captains of the American Association. If that wasn’t enough the Coyotes of Edinburg need to find a new Assistant GM as Omar Ortiz left the position in August of 2008, and Manager Vince Moore left to become the bench coach of the Shreveport-Bossier Captains.
Devon Teeple is an author for the Business of Sports Network. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Devon is a former student within Sports Management Worldwide’s Baseball General Manager Class. Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective and is a intern with The Football Outsiders and contributor with the Plymouth River Eels.