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01/22/2009 10:30 AM ET
Israel Association of Baseball announces initiative
In negotiations with group headed by RiverDogs chairman

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TEL AVIV -- The Israel Association of Baseball (IAB) has announced that it has entered into exclusive negotiations with a group of prominent North American sportsmen who are planning the development of a new professional baseball league in Israel.

The group is headed by Marv Goldklang, who also serves as chairman of the Charleston RiverDogs, a part owner of the New York Yankees and principal owner of four Minor League professional baseball teams in the United States.

The initial agreement, in the form of an exclusive option covering not less than one, nor more than two years, would permit the group to conduct due diligence regarding both marketing and facility objectives to determine the long-term economic viability of a professional baseball league. As part of the arrangement, the group also would provide financial and other support for the Israeli and international amateur baseball programs operated by the IAB.

The IAB operates under the authority of the Israel Ministry of Science, Culture Sport, which supports this new initiative to establish a viable professional baseball league in the country.

"The IAB is very excited about working with Marv Goldklang and his partners," said Haim Katz, IAB Chairman. "Marv has over 25 years of experience with Major League-affiliated professional baseball leagues, and with independent professional leagues as well. We feel the concepts that he promotes in sports, including unique entertainment features designed to appeal even to non-baseball fans, can revolutionize not only baseball in Israel, but other sports as well. Jeff Rosen, a prominent American businessman, is committed to promoting sports in Israel and has a proven record of success by taking the Maccabi Heat basketball team in just one year from the doldrums of the lower league to prime time recognition in the Israel premier basketball league."

Professional baseball was attempted during the summer of 2007 by an organization known as the Israel Baseball League (IBL), with six teams sharing three fields and completing a 46 game schedule. The IBL was not a financial success, and was unable continue its baseball operations.

"The IAB has learned many lessons from its experience with the IBL and our decision to move forward with this new group was not taken lightly," said Katz. "We feel this group is composed of high caliber, professional, experienced and very reputable individuals. They are not spending other people's money but investing their own at this point and performing all the necessary groundwork required to protect their potential investment and develop a viable structure for professional baseball in Israel. We have no doubt that there is no better group to carry out this task and we look forward to building baseball in Israel with them."

The North American group hopes to establish a fully staffed professional baseball league in the next one or two years, depending on the results of its efforts during the initial agreement which, as noted, would include development of strategies designed to create additional and improved baseball facilities appropriate for the game at the professional level.

Baseball has long been called America's "National Pastime," and is now played in more than 110 nations, according to the International Baseball Federation. It has been an Olympic sport and will hold the second World Baseball Classic this year, with 16 nations competing.

About the IAB
The IAB is a non-profit organization (amutah) duly registered as such with the Israeli Authorities, with the purpose of promoting baseball in Israel. It is recognized as the governing body of baseball in Israel by all the official Israeli sports bodies, including the Ministry of Science, Culture and Sport; the Israel Sports Gambling Commission; the Israeli Olympic Committee; Otzma; and by International Baseball Association (IBAF) and the Confederation of European of Baseball (CEB).