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BUZZ SUING TRAPPERS OVER ARBITRATION

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After striking out in an arbitration fight, the Salt Lake Buzz want not just another game but a different umpire, too.

The team is suing the former Salt Lake Trappers in federal court, challenging an independent arbitration ruling last month in which Buzz owner Joe Buzas was ordered to pay $2 million for taking the territory that once belonged to the Trappers.The Trappers say Buzas is a sore loser. The Buzz insist the arbitration award was too much.

"The Buzz think they're above the rules of professional baseball,"

said Trappers attorney Gregory Mitchell. "Their appeal is further evidence of their disregard for the rules of the game."

Mitchell said common courtesy dictates the Buzz accept the outcome of arbitration. Buzz attorney Robert S. Campbell Jr., however, said the team has every right to take the matter to court.

"The Buzz are pursuing their lawful rights on appeal under Utah law and under federal law," said Campbell.

But Mitchell said the team is playing with fire because the Trappers have filed a request with the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues asking not only that Salt Lake's minor-league turf be returned to the Trappers, but that it also come with the Buzz franchise.

The territory, which extends in a 35-mile radius from home plate at Franklin Quest Field, was long regarded as a ho-hum area for minor league baseball until Buzas moved the former Portland Beavers, a less-than-stellar financial performer, to Salt Lake last year.

When he rechristened the franchise the Buzz and was given a thrifty $200,000-a-year lease on the newest and perhaps best bush-league stadium in the country, baseball attendance skyrocketed. Ticket sales and trade in Buzz paraphernalia went through the roof and Buzas overnight had a gold mine on his hands. Though team officials have declined to say how much money the Buzz made in their maiden year, profit estimates are in the $3 million range.

The Buzz lawsuit, filed last week in 3rd Circuit Court, will probably be shifted to federal court in Salt Lake City. It names as a co-plaintiff the Pacific Coast League, which the Buzz belong to, and as a co-defendant the Pioneer League, the organization in which the Trappers competed.

The Buzz last month were ordered by an arbitration panel to pay $1.75 million to the Trappers, including $400,000 for the loss of their local franchise, an amount Campbell said is redundant. The team also is appealing $117,000 of the $317,000 it was ordered to pay the Pioneer League.

Originally the team had offered a $400,000 settlement, though about $4 million was sought.