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Creditors Lock Out Worcester Tornadoes

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WORCESTER (CBS) – The Worcester Tornadoes are in serious trouble. That trouble does not simply consist of a pitching shortage or a lack of power hitting.

The team’s problems are financial. Creditors kicked the Tornadoes’ staff out of its offices at the Worcester Hilton Garden Inn and the locks were changed on Tuesday. Court-ordered movers boxed everything up and moved it out.

WBZ Newsradio 1030’s Lana Jones Reports

The Hilton is just one of many creditors coming forward claiming the Tornadoes owe them money. This independent minor league team has a mountain of unpaid bills.

Former player Jose Canseco has filed suit against the team for over $80,000 in unpaid wages.

“We’ve tried for months to reach settlement, and to have Jose receive his wages, and unfortunately it’s escalated to this level and we’ve had to initiate legal proceedings,” Canseco’s lawyer, Michelle Hubbard, said.

They also owe $60,000 to the city of Worcester, $50,000 for use of the field at Holy Cross, and another $50,000 in taxes, $60,000 for bus travel, $60,000 for hotels, and another $20,000 to their uniform maker.

Printer David Sears says he’s out $6400.

“So is that fraud? Is that stealing? It’s certainly something and isn’t honest business practice,” he said.

The Tornadoes uniforms have been seized from the locker room.

But Manager Chip Plante vows to play on.

“If there’s a game, we’re playing it. Play in t-shirts, tuxedoes. What does it matter? It doesn’t matter,” he said.

What might matter is the fact that players haven’t been paid for weeks.

Owner Todd Breighner inherited a $600,000 debt from the previous ownership when he bought the team in 2010. He is vowing to continue on.

“I’ve made a tremendous commitment to pay people back,” he said.

He says the team still plans to play its final two home games on Tuesday and Wednesday before finishing the season on the road. Next year, Breighner said, they’ll be back.

“The only thing I can absolutely positively tell you, the Worcester tornadoes will be here in 2013,” he said.

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