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AUBURN - A Little League coach who organized a winter youth baseball league said Thursday that teams were asked to pay the Auburn SportsPlex for the full season just days before the facility closed.
Christopher A. Gouveia, head coach of Grafton's HomeQuest Hurricanes, said the team paid its $1,200 fee for an eight-week season in the week before Feb. 28, when the indoor sports field at 5 St. Mark St. was shuttered by order of a bankruptcy judge.
"I didn't find out it was being shut down until Friday night," Mr. Gouveia said.
The team had played three games at the SportsPlex since early February.
Lawyer Joseph H. Baldiga of Mirick O'Connell, who was appointed bankruptcy trustee, said the SportsPlex had to close after its liability insurance lapsed roughly a week earlier.
Auburn SportsPlex has been in financial trouble since 2011, when Indoor Sports LLC of Acton, doing business as Teamworks, walked away in the middle of a 10-year lease.
Mr. Baldiga said the court on Wednesday granted SportsPlex the motion to convert to Chapter 7 bankruptcy from Chapter 11 proceedings, which it had entered in 2012.
"This means the business will stay closed as I try to sell the building and continue the breach-of-lease litigation against Teamworks," Mr. Baldiga said in an email.
He said in an interview that he had received a lot of calls from coaches, parents and potential buyers. About 20 claim forms have been sent to people who said they are owed money. Anyone interested in receiving a claim form or in potentially buying the property should email Mr. Baldiga at firstname.lastname@example.org Mr. Baldiga said he can also be reached at (508) 860-1448.
Mr. Gouveia said he didn't expect to receive much, if any, of a refund.
"It's the disappointment for the kids, more than anything," Mr. Gouveia said.
The winter baseball league was organized with three other teams, including Oxford, Dudley and a combination group of players, that were looking for a bridge between the fall and spring Little League seasons.
The Hurricanes, who had just received complete uniforms, practice Saturday mornings at the Baseball Academy in Shrewsbury, which is a smaller indoor facility than the Auburn SportsPlex.
"It's really the only place around that you can play games. It's big enough," Mr. Gouveia said about the SportsPlex.
He wrote in an email to the 12 players' families that he would arrange to play the five remaining games of the season outdoors, once the weather breaks.
Mr. Baldiga said he could not comment on whether the SportsPlex's request for full payment, days before it closed, constituted a deceptive business practice, saying he did not have the facts of that situation.
Contact Susan Spencer at email@example.com Follow her on Twitter @SusanSpencerTG.
March 7, 2014