The Worcester Tornadoes, of the independent Can-Am league, couldn't throw the first pitch of last night's game at 7 p.m., as scheduled. They were too busy dealing with police constables sent to enforce a court order to confiscate the team's equipment.
Enterprise Cleaning Co. has cleaned clubhouses, concourses and bathrooms at the Tornadoes' park for the past couple of years, for a discounted rate. Stephen Buchalter, the company's president, says the payments have always been late—he would get paid in April for the previous year's work. This season was to be different, and the Tornadoes were supposed to pay weekly. But the checks weren't coming, a $5,500 debt piled up, and Buchalter went to court.
"I desperately want the team to stay in the city," said Mr. Buchalter, who has twice run for City Council. "But I have 185 accounts and this one, by far, has cost me the most time and money."
He showed up at the game with a court order empowering him to collect all of the night's gate receipts, as well as uniforms, bats, balls, and other equipment. The game was only allowed to resume after the Can-Am commissioner agreed to pay Enterprise what it was owed. (There's also the little matter of a separate $35,000 lawsuit from another company, for unpaid bills for uniforms and promotional materials.)
The Tornadoes have had money problems for years, and the current owner inherited a half-million in debt when he bought the team in 2009. Things aren't getting any better this week. As part of their Must-Win Monday promotion, the 'Nadoes give all fans in attendance a free ticket if the team doesn't win. They didn't win.
Two companies sue Tornadoes over bills [Worcester Telegram & Gazette]
Photo via blamstur's Flickr