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Archives: March 19-25, 2006

Archives: March 19-25, 2006

San Antonio officials get an invite
Posted March 24, 2006
As the Florida Marlins continue discussing a possible relocation to San Antonio, owner Jeffrey Loria has decided to watch his team’s regular-season opener with seven of the city’s most influential politicians. San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, district attorney Susan Reed and four county commission members accepted Loria’s invitation to join him for the Marlins’ April 3 opener against the Astros in Houston, officials from San Antonio and the Marlins confirmed Thursday. It’s a nice symbolic move for Loria, though we’re guessing Astros officials aren’t thrilled with the prospect of competition from another MLB team. MLB is in the process of determining whether San Antonio would make an adequate MLB market; local officials have proposed spending $200 million on a new ballpark if the Fish relocate. More from the San Antonio Express-News.

Travs ballpark plans intact, on track
Posted March 24, 2006
Revenue generated by ticket-buying fans attending games at North Little Rock’s Dickey-Stephens Park, the future home of the Arkansas Travelers (Class AA; Texas League), will help cover the $4.4 million in added construction costs facing the new ballpark. The plan — announced after a 90-minute closed meeting at City Hall — means the city will not sacrifice the park’s design features and will keep the park on schedule to open in April 2007. The Travelers had agreed to a 20-year lease that says the team will pay for team and ballpark operating expenses from income generated from the stadium through ticket sales, luxury suite rentals, concession sales, advertising and other sources. Any profit after team and park expenses is to be divided evenly between the ball club and the city. Now a portion of the city’s profit will be used to retire the $4.4 million debt.

Mum’s the word in spring-training facility bidding war
Posted March 24, 2006
If you want a lot of information about the economics of spring training, here’s an in-depth look at Glendale’s attempt to land a team or two, with expert device provided by Mark Coronado, the community recreation services director for the City of Surprise. He was on the staff with the City of Peoria when it landed the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres, and he helped design the offer that brought the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals to Surprise. Really, the issue boils down to money and who can design a spring-training facility that funnels the most cash back to teams.

Nassau County to offer second plan for new ballpark at Coliseum
Posted March 24, 2006
When Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi announced Charles Wang and Scott Rechler won the right to redevelop the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, he slapped a provision on the deal: they must deliver on their last-minute pitch to build a minor-league ballpark at the Mitchel Athletic Complex. To that end, Nassau is fast-tracking a Request for Proposals to make that happen. The New York Mets, who floated the idea of a new ballpark for an Eastern League team as part of their redevelopment plan, say they might look at putting in a bid if the process isn’t already rigged for Reckson Development to put in a ballpark for an independent Atlantic League team.

Yankees, Mets closer to new ballparks
Posted March 24, 2006
A New York State economic agency has approved plans for new ballparks for the Yankees and Mets, moving the teams one step closer toward breaking ground this year. The ballparks are expected to open in 2009. The Empire State Development Corp.’s seven-member board voted unanimously in favor of the projects, which call for the state to contribute almost $150 million for infrastructure improvements and capital reserves. The projects now go to the New York City Council for a vote by April 5, said Deborah Wetzel, a spokeswoman for the development agency.

Food lineup at new Busch: fireball and brat burgers, malts and more
Posted March 24, 2006
Delaware North Companies Sportservice announced the food lineup at the new Busch Stadium. In addition to the standard ballpark fare, the St. Louis Cardinals will be offering some unique items at the new ballpark, including a fireball burger (served with jalapenos), a brat burger, BBQ, foot-long corn dogs, and more. The Red Bird Club will feature grills for burgers and a carving stadium for sandwiches.

 

Greenville ballpark staff prepares favorites, surprises
Posted March 24, 2006
The Greenville Drive (Class A; Sally League) are preparing their food line up for their new ballpark. Fans can expect much of the fare they’re used to seeing at other sporting events. There’ll be hamburgers, nachos, bratwursts, Italian sausages, chili cheese fries and pizza. For the kids (or the kid in all of us) there’ll also be the requisite Cracker Jack, along with cotton candy and other candies. The ice cream will be Mayfield. Perhaps the most unusual item on the menu: a fried cheesecake, served with warm raspberry and chocolate syrup.

Bonds to sue authors of unflattering book
Posted March 24, 2006
Barry Bonds plans to sue the authors and publisher of a book that alleges the San Francisco Giants’ slugger used steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, saying they used "illegally obtained" grand jury transcripts. Bonds’ attorneys sent a letter Thursday to an agent for the authors of "Game of Shadows," alerting them of plans to sue the writers, publisher Gotham Books, the San Francisco Chronicle and Sports Illustrated, which published excerpts this month. This would seem to be a supremely silly move: lots of nasty stuff can come out during discovery (remember, discovery in a civil suit is not private), and attempting to enforce criminal law on the civil side usually isn’t a great idea. We’re guessing Bonds and crew are feeling the heat over the book.

NSS releases results of promotion study
Posted March 24, 2006
Much of this won’t be news to well-informed, regular Ballpark Digest readers: National Sports Services (NSS), a national sports consulting and development firm announced findings of a recent national marketing study that highlights key findings on effective fan entertainment in the Minor League and Independent Baseball industry. The report includes unparalleled analytical data gathered from interviews with team executives of more than 140 of the nearly 200 affiliated and independent minor league teams throughout the United States.

Legends to hold Wedding Fair
Posted March 24, 2006
Speaking of interesting promotions: The Lexington Legends (Class A; Sally League) announced that they would host their first annual wedding expo on Sunday, April 9th. The wedding expo will take place during a home game against the Lakewood BlueClaws. The afternoon at the ballpark will be a wedding themed event, with contests and prizes for future brides and grooms throughout the game. The cost is $6 with pre-registration or $9 on the day of the game. Registration includes a ticket to the game, admission to the wedding expo and opportunity to win prizes for a wedding. The wedding expo begins at 12:30 p.m.

‘Fair-share’ hiring approved by Jackson County
Posted March 24, 2006
Hundreds of minority and women workers could be hired to overhaul the Truman Sports Complex under construction agreements approved Thursday by the Jackson County Legislature. As part of the agreements with the Kansas City Royals and the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs on stadium overhauls, the county would pay to train 200 minority and women workers. Negotiators for the county say the agreements would ensure that women and minority contractors and workers get their fair share of any stadium improvement work, which would employ about 1,000 people a year. They said the agreements go beyond anything ever done in construction locally or in professional sports.

Spikes looking for long-term home in State College
Posted March 24, 2006
Or, rather, the St. Louis Cardinals are looking for a long-term home in State College, the new home of the State College Spikes (short season; NY-Penn League). For the last 12 years, the Cardinals had a working agreement with the New Jersey Cardinals, the team moving to State College. With the Altoona Curve (Class AA; Eastern League), a Pirates affiliate, buying the team and moving it to the new Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, the speculation that the Spikes will affiliate with the Pirates next year. The Cards front office says it would like to continue an affiliation with the Spikes; the Pirates’ short-season affiliate is the Williamsport Crosscutters.

Braves to celebrate 40 years in Atlanta
Posted March 24, 2006
The Atlanta Braves will recognize the 40th Anniversary of their arrival from Milwaukee in 1966 with a season-long schedule of celebrations slated for Turner Field in 2006. On April 12, the anniversary date of the first Braves game played in Atlanta in 1966, the Braves will bring members of that team back for a series of events. First will be the Braves Leadoff Luncheon at noon in the 755 Club, with the 1966 Atlanta Braves joined by the current Braves roster. At the game that evening, the ’66 players will have a special autograph signing and fan question and answer session before a special recognition that will take place prior to the first pitch. Also that night, the Braves team will don replica 1966 uniforms in honor of the anniversary. At the end of the game, the jerseys will be given to fans who have won the "Jerseys Off Our Backs" raffle, benefiting the Atlanta Braves Foundation. Fans wanting to attend that game can take advantage of the Braves rollback ticket prices with $2 tickets available in the Upper Reserved and Upper Pavilion in a nod to the 1966 ticket prices.

Builder, boro get busy on Nat’l Lead effort
Posted March 24, 2006
With the builder now in place, negotiations will get under way on an agreement to redevelop Sayreville’s National Lead site. A centerpiece of LNR Property Corp.’s proposal was a new minor-league ballpark, but apparently that’s not written in stone: LNR officials say a minor-league ballpark is an important part of the lifestyle element of the plan, but discussion on that idea is only preliminary, and there are back-up alternatives in the event that baseball is not found to be viable for the community.

Rockies to close off part of upper deck
Posted March 24, 2006
The Colorado Rockies, which saw the lowest attendance in their 13-year history in 2005, will again close off upper-deck seats in right field during unpopular games in hopes of packing fans into lower levels and creating more ballpark energy. "If we have 32,000 fans, we want 32,000 fans as close together as possible," Rockies President Keli McGregor told the Rocky Mountain News. "It makes for a better experience, and from a management standpoint, it allows you to manage the ballpark differently." Coors Field can seat more than 50,000 fans, but fewer than half that showed up on average last year as the team struggled. Other teams are seeing similar problems: The Oakland Athletics recently announced plans to cover the upper deck in green tarps at McAfee Coliseum, which will drop capacity from 44,073 to 34,179.

Council approves new lease for Huntsville Stars
Posted March 24, 2006
The Huntsville Stars (Class AA; Southern League) secured a place in the city’s sports lineup Thursday night with a new lease agreement for use of Joe Davis Stadium, as the City Council unanimously approved the deal. The agreement calls for annual lease payments of $10,000 over five years, plus $5,000 yearly toward general stadium upkeep. The city will be responsible for major ballpark maintenance and also must spend $1 million in capital improvements for the 21-year-old ballpark, the oldest in the 10-team Southern League. The Stars will control all ticket, parking, concession and souvenir revenue. The previous lease agreement gave the city a percentage of those sales.

Gary mayor to retire; best known for new ballpark
Posted March 24, 2006
Gary (Ind.) Mayor Scott King is retiring. For King’s defenders, The Steel Yard ballpark will stand as a symbol of his legacy. For his enemies, it will forever gall them. The Steel Yard, the home of the Gary-SouthShore RailCats (independent; Northern League), became the most visible example of King’s effort to revitalize the city, but it drew criticism for cost overruns that pushed the city’s investment past $40 million. King retorted the stadium price reflected its quality construction, and voters refused to punish him for it by re-electing him again in 2003.

Renovation of Hinchliffe Stadium proposed
Posted March 24, 2006
Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, N.J. might be new life as a soccer facility under one of the five proposals for a proposed Great Falls State Park in Paterson. Hinchliffe was once home to the New York Black Yankees of the Negro National League. The facility would also house a Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame under the proposal from EDAW; not quite sure the world needs another one, given how excellent the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City is.

Ballpark Notes
Posted March 24, 2006
The Lake Elsinore Storm (Class A; California League) in conjunction with The Mighty XX announced plans for the broadcast of Storm baseball games for the 2006 season on CASH 1700 AM. The station will carry 136 Storm games for the 2006 season as the official flagship station for Lake Elsinore Storm baseball.
    "This is a natural partnership that we are very excited about. Cash 1700 AM will expand our reach and listenership so others outside our area can catch Storm action. With our affiliate team the Padres looking to produce more players through their farm system we see this as a great way for Padre fans across Southern California to become more acclimated with the up and coming Storm players. The Mighty XX and Cash 1700 AM are a viable sports giant which promises to be a great marriage for the station, the Storm and the Padres," said Dave Oster, president and general manager of the Lake Elsinore Storm.
    Coverage for the 2006 season begins April 6 with the Storm home opener at The Diamond versus the Lancaster JetHawks at 7:05 pm. Broadcast times for Monday, Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday games is set for 7:05 pm, with the Storm pre-game show beginning at 6:50 pm. Coverage for Wednesday games are set for 6:05 pm with Sunday games beginning at 2:05 pm for the first half of the season, and 6:05 pm for the second half.
    "As the Padres flagship, we felt it a natural to carry the Storm on 1700 AM; this will familiarize the San Diego fans with the Padres of the future. Gary Jacobs (Storm Owner) and his staff are building one of the finest organizations in all of the minor leagues," said John Lynch, president and CEO of BCA.
    Sean McCall, radio voice of the Storm since 1996, will return as the team’s play-by-play announcer.

Kauffman to get All-Star Game if renovations are approved
Posted March 23, 2006
Kansas City Royals owner David Glass says Kauffman Stadium will land an All-Star Game between 2010 and 2014 if a Jackson County sales tax to fund renovations is approved by Jackson County voters on April 4. "Major League Baseball is excited about the opportunity to bring an All-Star Game back to Kansas City," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Kauffman Stadium’s construction played a key role in the transformation of modern day ballparks. With the approval of the proposed renovations, this historic venue will once again be transformed into one of the crown jewels of Major League Baseball." The NFL has also stepped up with a pledge to hold the Super Bowl at Arrowhead Stadium if a retractable roof is approved. The Royals have not hosted the All-Star Game since 1973, when then-Royals Stadium was in its first season. The Kansas City Star says new leases for the Royals and Chiefs — contingent on the tax passage — are much better deals for taxpayers than the original leases.

 

R-Braves cite new ballpark proposals
Posted March 23, 2006
Management of the Richmond Braves (Class AAA; International League) says they’ve been approached by area developers about alternatives to a city-proposed new ballpark at Richmond’s former Fulton Gas Works site, but aren’t ready to talk specifics. (Reps from one possible area, Chesterfield County, have gone public.) The R-Braves and the International League are obviously taking a counteroffensive against Richmond Mayor Doug Wilder; for weeks Wilder did all the talking about a new ballpark, coming right out and saying the team and the city had an agreement when none was in place. International League President Randy Mobley was in on the action as well, saying Wilder’s statements about receiving inquiries from other teams about the availability of the Richmond market were counter to MiLB territorial rules. The R-Braves don’t seem to have made any moves toward exploring a move, and given how MiLB has tightened up territorial guidelines in the last six months (teams must now seek permission to explore a move to any territory), we’re guessing Wilder is bluffing about the possibility of landing a replacement for the R-Braves.

Analysis predicts ballpark windfall for Nats
Posted March 23, 2006
The Washington Nationals could generate $203 million in revenue during their first season in a new ballpark, according to a District-commissioned report that includes projections that would make the franchise one of the richest in Major League Baseball. Even after the initial excitement over the new stadium wears off, the Nationals can anticipate grossing $190 million from ticket sales, concessions and parking in the 2011 season and seeing that amount grow by 2.8 percent annually from there, said the report prepared by Economics Research Associates for D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi. Many baseball people, including Nats president Tony Tavares, says these estimates are way too high — though we’re guessing there were some folks in the commissioner’s office doing a little jig as they continued work on choosing a new owner for the team.

New for 2006: the Laredo Broncos
Posted March 23, 2006
The name of the Laredo franchise in the United League has been announced: it’s the Laredo Broncos. The team’s logo colors are red, yellow, black and white. Finalists for the name: HotSox, Wranglers, Vaqueros and Twin Cities. The team’s home opener at Veterans Field is May 26 against Alexandria, and one of the league owners, Gary Wendt, said they’re are looking for land to build a ballpark by next year. In the meantime, the Broncos are trying to make Veterans Field as comfortable as possible for the fans, such as adding a sports-type bar behind home plate.

Drive, Boston Red Sox extend affiliation
Posted March 23, 2006
The Boston Red Sox and the Greenville Drive (Class A; Sally League) announced a two-year extension to their player development contract through the 2008 season. "The Drive’s leadership group, specifically co-owner Craig Brown and general manager Mike deMaine, have committed to building a first-class minor league operation in Greenville," Red Sox vice president of player personnel Ben Cherington said in a news release. "From their investment in a new ballpark for 2006 to their efforts to reach the Greenville community, Craig and Mlke are committed to the same standard that we expect from our players and staff. We will continue to work hard to put a team on the field that the fans in Greenville can be proud of."

Florida Atlantic University to make pitch to host spring training
Posted March 23, 2006
There really isn’t much detail here: the headline is longer than the assertion in the gossip column of the Boca Raton News. Sure, why not: FAU is being pretty aggressive with expansion plans, looking to build a 30,000-seat athletic facility along the lines of Syracuse’s Carrier Dome, and at one time talking with the Florida Marlins about possibly leasing the facility for pro baseball. (Those talks began and ended quickly; we’re guessing FAU officials dropped it after finding out the financial requirements of the Fish.) We’ll see whether there’s anything to this assertion.