The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

January 18, 2014

Joplin's master developer, baseball franchise investor are ex-business partners

JOPLIN, Mo. — Joplin’s master developer and one of the owners of a baseball franchise looking to move to Joplin were once on the same team, partners on a deal in Waco, Texas, that in 2009 ran into financial trouble and ultimately ended up in court.

Today, Michael Wray, one of the partners in the WLD Suarez Baseball LLC group that wants to put a team in Joe Becker Stadium, said there is no relationship between himself and David Wallace, chief executive officer of Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, which is under contract to build projects for tornado recovery in Joplin.

But Wray also said he is seeking assurances from Joplin officials that neither Wallace nor anyone else with Wallace Bajjali, of Sugar Land, Texas, “will come ... near our project.”

“We want to stay 500 miles away from him,” Wray said. “We will pull out of Joplin before we work with David Wallace.”

In view of the problems with the Waco deal, Joplin city officials said they are trying to structure agreements with the baseball group so that Joplin will be protected.

Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr said it is his job to see that the two don’t interfere with the outcome of each other’s projects.

“My role is to separate the efforts, and that’s what I am trying to do. I have listened to both individuals’ statements and taken that into consideration, but my role is to advance both efforts and protect the city’s interests, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Wallace, in a short interview last week before he traveled out of the country, called the fact that he and Wray are each working on separate but simultaneous Joplin projects a “fluke.”

Matt LaBranche, executive vice president of WLD Suarez Baseball LLC, who also worked with the franchise when it was operated as the El Paso Diablos, called the fact that both Wallace and Wray are in town “coincidental.”

Wray, who acknowledged he is the “W” in WLD, said, “Funny how the world works.”

Wray, of Austin, Texas, said that he and Wallace had an “amicable” business divorce until recently, when he learned that Wallace spoke to the city manager about his and Wray’s history.

“We would like some assurance that Wallace will stop meddling in our baseball project,” Wray said in a telephone interview last week with the Globe.

Asked what he was referring to, Wray initially said, “I don’t want to go into specifics.”

But then he acknowledged that he was referring to a conversation Wallace had with Rohr about their previous business history.

“They attempted to undermine us, and they weren’t successful,” Wray said.

Wallace said that he had told city officials about Wray and their project together in Waco.

“We have spoken at length and provided information to the city,” Wallace said.

Rohr also said that Wallace had talked to him about Wray but that he does not remember when that conversation took place.

“He verbally expressed to me some of the history they had on that project,” said Rohr, adding that he does not know from an independent source about what happened between the two.

“It’s not unusual for developers to bad mouth each other,” Rohr added.

Text Only
Top Stories
  • 042314 Rec funding Build a Lion_72.jpg Missouri Southern students to vote on new fee, going smoke-free

    Students at Missouri Southern State University will vote next week on whether they support creating a fee that would fund athletic and recreation projects. During the annual student senate-sponsored spring election, students also will be asked whether they support a completely tobacco-free campus.

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • New Kansas gun law draws support, some reservations

    At John’s Sports Center in Pittsburg on Thursday, firearms manager Adam Gariglietti said he supported Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to sign a bill that will ensure it is legal across the state to openly carry firearms. But, he offered some words of caution. “It’s great that he signed the bill,” Gariglietti said. “But at the same time, common sense goes a long way.”

    April 24, 2014

  • Baxter Springs chili feed to raise money for family of girl facing surgery

    On a Sunday morning in February, 9-year-old Izzy Morris woke up her mother complaining of a headache. Teresa Morris gave her daughter medicine. But an hour later, the headache had worsened. “She was in a lot of pain and started screaming and yelling uncontrollably,” Morris said.

    April 24, 2014

  • Carthage budget committee hears proposal for water, sewer rate increases

    The proposed budget for the Carthage Water & Electric Plant, including increases in water and wastewater rates, dominated discussions Thursday night as the Carthage Budget Ways and Means Committee continued its review of proposed city budgets for the fiscal year starting July 1.

    April 24, 2014

  • 3 To Get Ready

    Three things coming your way in Friday’s Joplin Globe.

    April 24, 2014

  • Severe storms possible this afternoon

    A broken line of thunderstorms will continue to push east across Southeast Kansas and Southwest Missouri this afternoon, bringing a limited tornado risk, and elevated risks for hail and wind damage.

    April 24, 2014

  • Missouri lawmakers file three resolutions calling for impeaching governor

    While Gov. Jay Nixon was in Nevada, Mo., on Wednesday, a Missouri House panel led by Republicans began hearing arguments on three measures calling for impeaching him. Nixon has downplayed the proceedings as a legislative “publicity stunt.” One resolution, sponsored by Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, is critical of Nixon for waiting several months to call special elections to fill three vacated House seats.

    April 23, 2014

  • r042314psumove2.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Moving day for biology and chemistry building at Pittsburg State

    They didn’t all go two-by-two, and the person in charge wasn’t named Noah, but nonetheless, critters of all shapes and sizes were on the move Wednesday. Students, volunteers and staff members helped Delia Lister, director of Nature Reach, relocate everything from a pair of prairie dogs to a vocal macaw named Charlie so that Heckert-Wells Hall — the biology and chemistry building where they are housed on the campus of Pittsburg State University — can undergo a $4.4 million transformation in the coming months.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos 1 Slideshow

  • Respond With Love flower.jpg Joplin pays it forward with flowers; residents asked to return bulbs ‘fostered’ for other towns

    Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year. Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 3 To Get Ready

    Three things coming your way in Thursday’s Joplin Globe.

    April 23, 2014