JULY 1, 2003
BOB LIPP, PRESIDENT, ARIZONA-MEXICO LEAGUE
On June 17, 2003, the league board of directors voted 4-0 to immediately suspend league play.
The league officially formed at the Bisbee, Arizona monthly league meeting in December 2002. Since then, my time as league president has been rewarding, fulfilling and very exhausting.
As with any new business venture, many obstacles will arise. Obstacles for the league were no different.
I was planning on spending my time helping each team, branding, sales campaigns, etc. But, instead, I was dealing with major problems.
The beer company that owned the stadium In Juarez, had promised to lease the stadium to the team and to perform improvements to the ballpark. By the time the league had the monthly meeting in April 2002 at Cananea, the board of directors voted to move to Juarez team to Tecate if the improvements had not been started by the beer company by a May 1 deadline.
On May 1st the Juarez team instructed the league that improvements had not been started and I immediately went to Tecate and started that team from the ground up. The Tecate team had no ownership. I offered the ownership to the Cananea majority owner and he accepted. It was voted 4-0.
By the second week of being in Tecate, I was in contact with the Nogales team. The team May monthly dues were not received by the league and upon telephone conversation with the Nogales team, it was discovered that the one of the four team owners had dropped out. This person was the main money person for the Nogales team.
I offered the Nogales majority ownership to a Bisbee minority shareholder owner and he quickly agreed to go to Nogales and assume majority ownership. It was voted 4-0.
Opening day came and went. Bisbee opened in front of 1,800 fans. Nogales 886, Cananea 2,802 and Tecate 555.
After each team played 16 games, the league had an off day and on June 17 and about noon I received a call from the Bisbee minority owner ushering me to a called emergency meeting in Bisbee at 4:30pm at the Bisbee team offices.
I drove from Phoenix to make the short notice meeting. The Tecate, Nogales and Bisbee directors were present and the Cananea director was present via telephone.
Bisbee was overdrawn at the bank. They had no money to continue. They had a person that had offered to buy the team but they could not get him on the telephone. We were told he was away on business. The Bisbee team had no offer to purchase in writing. We spent approx. an hour going over all scenerios.
The Cananea and Tecate teams were willing to continue, pay money to travel and continue. The Bisbee and Nogales majority owner said he was not going to spend anymore money. I asked, if the league or a contributor would supply the money for Bisbee to travel to Tecate for the next 4-game set, would the Bisbee majority owner be willing to continue? The majority owner stated that he was not going to finance the team any longer, not today, and not in four days when the team returned from Tecate. So, offering to support the Bisbee team four more days seemed to be not a good choice.
When the league had our December 2002 formation meeting, the Cananea team brought to motion, they asked for team surety or bond. This would be used in case a team had financial trouble. That motion was voted down 1-3.
Then I asked each team director, with each team’s annual budget set at approx. $300,000, how does each team plan on paying expenses if it rains all summer?
I received four really good answers; Juarez were large cotton farmers; Nogales’ majority owner was a building engineer with a lot of savings and could contribute more infusion if needed; Cananea was owned by an Oil company from Kansas with plenty of reserves; And the Bisbee ownership owned numerous oil wells in Oklahoma.
So, I asked Bisbee, can we get some funds from the Oil wells? Can we get an advance against your holdings? Then, I received an answer from another Bisbee shareholder, he said there are no oil wells, we have all been lied to. I looked to the shareholders that had told this information to our entire board in December, and I asked them if this information was true. I got no answer from either shareholder.
Then, the majority shareholder went on to explain that he invested $25,000 with the team and at the time, the team represented to him that the league membership had been paid in full. He instructed the group that the Bisbee team had lied about that too.
We discussed previous moments prior to the emergency meeting; I remember, presiding over the December 2002 league formation meeting in Bisbee. As a group all of us were discussing league affairs and something was brought up about team membership fees and I had mentioned that each team paid a down payment and owed the balance split over the next three years.
The minority shareholder was visibly shaken and asked for a recess. The Bisbee ownership group spilled into the hallway for a few minutes and was starting to get loud.
Then, in early June, the same shareholder called me, in early June he tried to withdraw money from the bank. He was trying to get cash for the players meal money but was told by the bank that he had been removed from the team bank account. I notified the shareholder that the team should have held a board meeting to vote and change the bank records.
At that time, I called for the league suspension and it was voted 4-0.
The following morning, an article appeared in the Douglas newspaper. The primary subject of the article was how the league misappropriated $55,000.
I got an interview phone call from a San Diego newspaper and the reporter had a lot of accusations against me.
My previous boss from the Wichita team that I had previously worked for, called me and said he had an interview with a newspaper and the reporter had accused me of stealing all the money from the league.
I was told in each instance, the person who spread these accusations was the same Bisbee minority shareholder.
I deny these charges and stand by what I have tried to build.
I have four written statements from each team. I did a good job, all accounting was approved and voted at each league meeting, and each team states that they would rehire me.
In summary, the league has had many problems. I take complete responsibility for the failures. I enlisted the owners for each team and I did a poor job of qualifying the individuals that I brought forth to be part of this great historic baseball league.
The league will re-group and work diligently to play in the future.
PRESIDENT BOB LIPP your paragraph here.
PRESIDENT'S REPORT - END OF SEASON - 2003
Due to some incorrect media reporting and improper information given by a disgruntled minority shareholder of one of the teams, the Arizona-Mexico League will post the 2003 End-of-Season report here.
It’s been 13 years since the 2003 season abruptly came to an end.
Any media or person concerned has been directed here to review the report.
No new interviews or debate concerning the 2003 will be given.
The league is currently focused on its future; the proper development that concerns the future of the Arizona-Mexico League.