That didn’t take long: A day after the Jamestown Jammers (short season A; NY-Penn League) announced a 2015 move to Morgantown, W.Va., city officials reported multiple inquiries regarding a Diethrick Park lease.
Not a surprise: some consider Jamestown a viable market and Diethrick Park, which opened in 1941, a decent venue despite the team’s failure to attract fans — so far this season the team drew 23,296 fans over 31 dates, averaging 751 fans a game. It’s a small market — the town’s population is only 31,146 as of 2010 — but there’s a rich tradition of baseball in the city.
With an open venue, independent leagues and at least two summer-collegiate leagues — the New York Collegiate Baseball League (NYCBL) and the Perfect Game Collegiate League — have asked city officials about the ballpark’s availability. Both summer-collegiate leagues already have strong presences in the region. From TWC News:
Russ Diethrick said he was heartbroken to hear the Jammers are leaving town after 21 seasons. He’d been attending baseball games at the ballpark since the late 1940s, beginning with the Falcons. Years later, he was responsible for keeping minor league baseball in a stadium with his name since 1997.
“When you just stop and pause for a moment, you’ve got to have a good feeling about the opportunity for something else to come about and be appreciative of the opportunity you had to be part of the past,” Diethrick said.
As the city looks for another franchise, the stadium will still host several events, including Babe Ruth, high school and college ball.
One potential complicating factor: in recent years MiLB has required teams to maintain a lease for a period after a move, just in case there are facility issues with a new city. We saw that play out this year when a new El Paso ballpark wasn’t finished at the beginning of the season and the El Paso Chihuahuas (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) began the season at their former Tucson home. So it may not be until 2016 that summer baseball returns to Diethrick Park — but it may not be a bad business strategy to take a summer off so people can miss baseball.
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