- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2003

Members of the Virginia Baseball Club said yesterday their ownership group remains intact and active in its pursuit of baseball despite the unexpected and unsettling firing of chairman William Collins from Alexandria paging company Metrocall Inc.
Collins, who shepherded a 12-fold growth in subscribers in the late 1990s as Metrocall's president and CEO, was dismissed Wednesday on the heels of a eight-month process to restructure more than $900million in debt and emerge from Chapter11 bankruptcy protection. Industry and Metrocall sources say Collins and a new board of directors battled about the future direction of the company as it struggled to compete against the proliferation of advanced wireless phones.
"There is still a place for one-way paging, a niche [business] it may be," a source close to Metrocall said. "But there were two very different philosophies clashing, and they decided to go their different ways."
Industry sources say Collins accepted the termination as opposed to resigning in order to reap full severance benefits.
Collins, who declined comment yesterday, will now spend most of his time pursuing baseball. The group holds a seniority edge among parties currently seeking baseball. But Virginia baseball advocates also are trying to identify more than $100million in funds still needed to complete a stadium financing package, as well as preferred sites for a ballpark.
Major League Baseball's relocation committee is evaluating prospective homes for the Montreal Expos, owned and operated by MLB owners. After picking a jurisdiction for the team, the committee then will select an ownership group.
"Bill Collins will now be working full time to bring baseball to Northern Virginia and creating a major tourist attraction and economic driver in the process," said Mike Scanlon, a VBC investor and former Metrocall employee. "He is fully committed to this effort."
Collins' funds for a baseball franchise were largely acquired when Vanguard Cellular Systems, in which Collins was a significant equity holder, was sold to AT&T; in 1998 for $1.7billion.
Collins also has a primary interest in National Capital Golf, a start-up company involved in golf course ownership, operation and development.

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