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Archives: Oct. 1-7, 2008

Archives: Oct. 1-7, 2008
Fate of Tiger Stadium to be addressed today
Posted Oct. 7, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
The Detroit City Council will again address the future of Tiger Stadium at a meeting today. Demolition of most of Tiger Stadium now complete; what’s left is the original Navin Field grandstand (essentially the area between the dugouts.) The council had given Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy a deadline of today to come up with $219,000 to ensure the grandstand would remain standing, in anticipation of millions more coming down the pike from the federal government. It sounds like the conservancy is in a position to pay $69,000 today and the rest by the end of the week. We still continue to wonder why the city council — what with all the problems facing Detroit today, especially those emanating from the mayor’s office — is putting such a high priority on such a relatively minor issue.


New dugouts add to cost of Recreation Park renovation
Posted Oct. 7, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
New dugouts at Recreation Park, the home of the Visalia Oaks (High Class A; California League), will cost the city $715,000. Technically, the upgrades — requested by parent Arizona Diamondbacks — aren’t part of the $11.6 million renovation of the 60-year-old ballpark. But that renovation loomed as a subject even though the proposal passed the city council by a 4-1 margin: the cost of renovations have gone up, and there are more improvements requested by the Diamondbacks that still need to be addressed, like a better home-run fence and new turf. More from the Times-Delta.

Credit crunch could impact new Tulsa ballpark
Posted Oct. 6, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Although $60 million in funding for a new downtown ballpark for the Tulsa Drillers (Class AA; Texas League) has been identified, a big issue remains: the sale of bonds to actually finance construction. Normally selling bonds in this situation wouldn’t be a huge problem, but the crisis in credit markets appears to be affecting the sale of these municipal bonds. "The market turmoil is certainly something that is very much on our radar screen," Mayor Kathy Taylor told the Tulsa World. "How the government resolves the problem that this nation got itself into will impact anything the city is building, and the ballpark will be no exception," she said. The funding plan for the $60-million facility: $30 million from private donations, $25 million from the proceeds of a downtown tax district, and $5 million from the Drillers. We’ve been warning that problems in the credit market were likely to affect the baseball business world; here’s an indication it’s so.

Selig to owners: don’t get cocky with price increases
Posted Oct. 6, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig told reporters that owners should not "get too cocky" and raise ticket prices too much in coming years, noting the slowing economy could prove to be a drag on baseball’s finances. On one level, Selig is correct when he says lower-budget teams can compete — witness Tampa Bay and Milwaukee in the playoffs, Minnesota just out — and he’s also right when he warns about a slowdown in the economy being a concern. Really, this warning is more for public-relations reasons than anything else: pricing guidelines in MLB occur via normal back channels, not in public. The message was received: the Seattle Mariners don’t expect to raise ticket prices in 2008. More from CP.

Topeka close to new ballpark; deputy mayor
Posted Oct. 6, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Topeka Deputy Mayor Randy Speaker says the city is close to landing a privately financed ballpark/entertainment complex housing an independent baseball team. He’s basing this on a Sept. 24 conversation with these potential investors. Now, a lot has happened between Sept. 24 and today — like a complete meltdown of the credit market — and as we’re seeing in other markets, it may be difficult for any group of investors to launch $15-million-plus project unless they have cash in hand. More from CJOnline.

Ft. Myers newspaper: John Henry just doesn’t like town, so BoSox will move
Posted Oct. 6, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
The Fort Myers newspaper has decided why the Boston Red Sox are looking at spring-training operations to Sarasota: it’s not because of the promise of a new ballpark or land for limited development — it’s the fact co-owner John Henry reportedly would prefer to spend February and March in Sarasota because he finds Fort Myers to be too low-rent. Or that’s the claim by former Fort Myers Mayor Wilbur Smith, who helped bring the Red Sox to Fort Myers in the first place. More from Spring Training Online.

Royals, Idaho Falls renew affiliation
Posted Oct. 6, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
It took awhile to be announced, but the Idaho Falls Chukars (rookie; Pioneer League) and the Kansas City Royals officially renewed their affiliation deal. The Royals are an oddity, fielding two teams at the rookie level: the Chukars and the Burlington Royals (rookie; Appalachian League).

New Avon FL franchise holding name-the-team contest
Posted Oct. 6, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Avon Professional Baseball, the new Frontier League expansion team, is reaching out to the community to decide what name will appear on the players’ jerseys when the team takes the field this spring.
    Starting Monday, Oct. 6, fans will be able to submit their team name ideas online at the team’s website, All suggestions must be submitted by Oct. 20, at which time the top five to ten names will be posted on the team website for fans to vote on their favorites. The official unveiling of the team name and logo will take place in mid November. The fan with the winning entry will win a fantastic prize pack of tickets and merchandise and will be recognized at a home game next summer.
    "It is important to us that the community has a voice in naming the team," said Steven Edelson, the CEO and managing partner of Avon Baseball, "The best team names are the ones that are fun and creative but also reflect the people and the region they are a part of."
    The team has hired Plan B Branding, a creative ideas company, to take the community’s ideas and to develop them into a brand platform complete with logo, mascot and uniform designs.

Wendt: ULB will return in 2009
Posted Oct. 6, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Independent United League Baseball CEO Brad Wendt says all six teams in his circuit will return for the 2009 season as a lawsuit initiated by the league’s founders makes its way through the legal system. A judge handed down a temporary restraining order against Wendt and ULB last month, prohibiting the sale of any franchises or changes to existing franchises. Hearings on the lawsuit initiated by John Bryant and Byron Pierce are scheduled for January. "The United League takes great pride in preparing for our fourth season with the same six teams that welcomed us into their communities during our inaugural season," Wendt said in a statement. "The league is equally proud of the stability of our senior management team with seven members of the team being with the league since the first pitch."

Orange County Flyers look at move if business doesn’t pick up
Posted Oct. 6, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
The owners of the Orange County Flyers (independent; Golden Baseball League) may move from Cal State Fullerton’s Goodwin Field if business doesn’t pick up next season. It seems like all the pieces should be in place for success: there’s local ownership in place (Harris Tulchin, Alan Mintz and Robert Young serves as managing partners, with 20 other investors, including actor James Denton and Bert Ellis, owner of Santa Ana’s KDOC-TV, on board), while local high-school legend and Hall of Famer Gary Carter managed the team to the league championships. But attendance was low — 858 fans a game, lower than the 1,900 or so fans a game Cal State Fullerton attracts — and sponsorships aren’t bridging the gaps. Mintz says the team is talking with city officials about a new ballpark at Amerige Park, but there’s also the chance the team could move to Irvine or a more modest facility, like the ballpark at Saddleback College. More from the Orange County Business Journal.

Battle brewing over oldest-ballpark designation
Posted Oct. 6, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Over the years the folks in London, Ontario have gotten a lot of mileage over Labatt Park, which dates back to 1877, being the oldest continually used ballfield, as so designated by the Guinness Book of World Records. That designation usurps a claim by Clinton, Mass. officials about Fuller Field being the oldest, dating back to 1878. There’s no doubt baseball was being played at Labatt Park in 1877 — a story in Canadian Illustrated News shows the London Tecumsehs on the field — but folks in Clinton say the Labatt Park claim is invalid because the actual field has been shifted over the years. There will never be a final answer to this, and much of the designation will depend on definitions. More from Canwest News.

Oaksville ballpark targeted for renovation
Posted Oct. 6, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
What’s billed as the remaining ballpark from the Negro Leagues days and the old Class D Eastern Shore League days is targeted for renovation. A ballpark in Oaksville, Md., the home of the Oaksville Eagles, is rundown, and locals are targeting what was once a gathering place for African-American teams and fans on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The issue: raising money to renovate the modest facility. More from Delmarva Now.

Ballpark Notes
Posted Oct. 6, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Dan Corbin, general manager of the Waterloo Bucks, has been named 2008 Northwoods League Executive of the Year. Corbin has been with the Bucks for seven seasons including the past three as GM. This summer he and the Bucks staff persevered through one of the most difficult challenges to ever a face a Northwoods League franchise. The Bucks were homeless for over a month when Waterloo’s Riverfront Stadium was flooded and left heavily damaged due to the devastating floods of Iowa’s Cedar River in mid-June. The Bucks were scheduled to play 16 home games, nearly half of their 34-game home schedule, in the 33 days they weren’t able to play at Riverfront Stadium. Of the 16 displaced scheduled contests, two were cancelled, eight were played at the opposing team’s venue, and six were held at a Waterloo area high school field. The Bucks returned to Riverfront on July 11th and played in front of 4,541 fans, the fourth largest crowd in the club’s 14-year history. In their remaining 12 home games the Bucks entertained crowds of over 2,000 five different times….Danny Reed is now the official play-by-play radio broadcaster for the Charleston RiverDogs (Low Class A; Sally League) after finishing out the 2008 season as the team’s interim play-by-play broadcaster when Josh Maurer resigned on August 1 to become the new Manager of Broadcast Properties at the University of Massachusetts. Reed served as the media relations intern, pre- and post-game show host, studio producer, and play-by-play fill-in last season and had the opportunity to work with Maurer, who was in his fourth season as the team’s play-by-play broadcaster….

New for 2009: The Fort Wayne TinCaps
Posted Oct. 2, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
The Fort Wayne Wizards (Low Class A; Midwest League) are no more. When Parkview Field opens next season, on the field will be the Fort Wayne TinCaps. Hardball Capital CEO Jason Freier and team general manager Mike Nutter unveiled the team’s new identity and logo at a press conference at the Grand Wayne Center this morning.
    The TinCaps moniker is a reference to Johnny Appleseed, who was known for wearing his tin cooking pot upon his head. The primary logo will be an apple wearing Johnny’s trademark Tin Cap (as shown above). Two alternate logos will incorporate the City’s initials, "FW" with each a Tin Cap and an apple stem and leaf. The team’s primary color scheme will consist of organic colors — green, red and brown. This color scheme is consistent with both the Johnny Appleseed theme and the project goal of creating Parkview Field as a true park and gathering place within the center of downtown Fort Wayne.
    "In Minor League Baseball you have the opportunity to create a brand with a true regional flavor," said GM Mike Nutter. "Johnny Appleseed, while known nationally, is a regional pioneer and folk hero. His story, and the history of this area, gives us an identity that is distinctly Fort Wayne."
    The name was entered as part of the franchise’s Name the Team contest.
    The TinCaps will begin play at Parkview Field on April 16.

GBL officially announces expansion to Victoria
Posted Oct. 2, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Darren and Russ Parker, the former owner of the Calgary Cannons (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), have purchased a franchise in the independent Golden Baseball League and will launch an expansion team, the Victoria Seals, at Royal Athletic Park for the 2009 season.
    "We’re very excited to add Victoria as a member of the GBL," said David Kaval, CEO of the Golden Baseball League. "This is a great baseball town with a fine tradition going back to the New York Yankees farm teams of the 1940s and 1950s. We are thrilled to have the Parkers as part of the league and look forward to a successful franchise in Victoria."
    Royal Athletic Park, built in 1925, is the premier outdoor sports venue in Victoria. With approximately 4500 fixed seats and configurations to accommodate over 9,000 fans it serves as the home of top level football and soccer teams as well as major events such as the annual Great Canadian Beer Festival. It was the home of all of the former professional baseball teams in Victoria, including the Victoria Capitals of the Canadian Baseball League a few years ago, the Blues & Mussels of the Northwest League in the 1970s and 1980 and then storied Yankee farm teams who played as the Athletics and Tyees.

Knights emerge as leading contender for Richmond; Kirk proposes million-dollar investment in Diamond
Posted Oct. 1, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Multiple sources in ownership ranks and the N.A. confirm the Charlotte Knights (Class AAA: International League) are first in line to claim the open Richmond market, with Ken Young and the Bowie BaySox (Class AA; Eastern League) slipping to the #2 spot. With tough times in the credit market, the escalating cost of a new ballpark in Charlotte’s Uptown area and the seemingly endless legal battles, owner Don Beaver is looking at all his options — and a potential move to Richmond is on the list. Now, if we’re comparing markets, there’s no doubt Charlotte is more desirable in terms of size and local economy. But Charlotte already has NBA basketball and NFL football and is the leading market for NASCAR racing, and even in baseball-crazy North Carolina the Knights have always been the #4 option for sporting dollars. A new downtown ballpark could change that, perhaps, but if you look at where Triple-A baseball works well, it’s not in cities where multiple major-league franchise already operate: it’s in the second tier of cities (Louisville, Sacramento, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Allentown, Austin) where there’s only one or two major-league franchises or major-college programs. 
    A move wouldn’t happen until 2010, leading to a discussion of what could possibly happen in Richmond for the 2009 season. In a recent meeting before the Richmond City Council, Peter Kirk proposed investing more than a million dollars in The Diamond, installing new seats, concessions and an ice-skating park that could open as early as this winter. As part of the proposal the Atlantic League would field a team in Richmond in 2009. The catch: anything installed in The Diamond would be moved to a new ballpark down the road. Kirk is working with local developer (and former city manager) Robert Bobb on a redevelopment plan that would include a new ballpark built to Triple-A specs. In our conversations Kirk has been pretty blunt about leaving open the possibility of working with an affiliated team; he’s the owner of three Atlantic League franchises, but he has deep roots in the affiliated world as well. Indeed, insiders in Richmond speak very favorably about Kirk’s ballpark proposals, and one big reason is his flexibility. (It also helps that outgoing R-Braves GM Bruce Baldwin is a personal friend and has been vouching for Kirk with city officials.)
    One big issue: would an independent Atlantic League team play for a year or two in Richmond until the Knights or another affiliated team be ready to move? Kirk tells us he’s willing to do this, and affiliated ball doesn’t have a problem with moving a team into an area where independent ball has or is doing business (Nashua/Manchester, Allentown, Jackson).

Departure of Rapidz probably means end of baseball in Ottawa
Posted Oct. 1, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
With the owners of the Ottawa Rapidz (independent; Can-Am Association) throwing in the towel after admitting the franchise was in the hole C$1.4 million (though half of that, admittedly, looked to be more an accounting twist than anything else), the future of Ottawa is indeed bleak. The issue, really, is whether the city actually wants baseball: by raising the yearly rent at Ottawa Stadium to over C$1 million annually — a figure that would kill a Triple-A team, much less an indy operation — the city basically evicted baseball. The Rapidz may have had a larger-than-anticipated loss for 2008, but the owners were willing to keep going after drawing 2,200 fans a game last season; but without a long-term lease such a move would be folly. Look for a recommendation to come down the pike in the next few months that the city tear down Ottawa Stadium in favor of new development (think Ikea); really, all the sham negotiations over a future lease was just a ruse to boot baseball without the city looking like bad guys.

Shea Stadium to come down slowly
Posted Oct. 1, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Shea Stadium will demolished piece by piece, rather than being imploded and carted away as salvage. "It will be dismantled," Dave Howard, executive vice president of business operations for the Mets, told Newsday. "There won’t be an implosion and there won’t be any wrecking balls. It will sort of be strategic cutting and dismantling section by section." The Mets are officially out of Shea Stadium, with operations now totally housed at Citi Field. The Mets have two weeks to take everything out of the ballpark they want, with the rest going out to auction. The deadline to have everything down: Opening Day 2009.

Sarpy County won’t begin ballpark effort until discussions with MECA end
Posted Oct. 1, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Sarpy County officials say they won’t move ahead with discussions of a new ballpark for the Omaha Royals (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) until its discussions of the O-Royals playing in a downtown College World Series are ended. For a