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Archives: Oct. 8-14, 2008

Archives: Oct. 8-14, 2008
Midwest Sliders to play ’09 season in Ypsilanti
Posted Oct. 10, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Oestrike Stadium, home to the Eastern Michigan University Eagles, will also be home for the 2009 season to the Midwest Sliders (independent; Frontier League). The announcement was made jointly by EMU Athletic Director Dr. Derrick Gragg and Midwest Sliders President & Director of Team Personnel Rob Hilliard.
    The club will be called the Midwest Sliders of Ypsilanti for 2009, taking a page from MLB’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The cap will include a ‘Y’ in its design. The ball club is releasing its 2009 Frontier League schedule and will soon begin to offer promotional packages to area businesses.
    The Sliders, purchased last January by Baseball Heroes of Oakland County, LP, operated in 2008 as a travel squad, playing all 96 games on the road. The Oakland County-based ownership group plans to start construction on a 3,900-seat ballpark next spring in Waterford Township. After the ball park’s completion, the club will be renamed the Oakland County Cruisers. “For the upcoming Frontier League season, we want to bring the club as close as possible to Oakland County while playing in a first-class facility,” explained Hilliard.
    “We’re extremely pleased to call EMU ‘home’ for the ’09 season and look forward to bringing this affordable, family entertainment activity to the greater Ypsilanti-Ann Arbor area,” Hilliard said, adding that he, Vice President & General Manager Bill Terlecky and Manager & Player Development Director Eric Coleman were anxious to meet with Ypsilanti officials, members of the local business community and area residents.
    Plans are also underway to add portable food & beverage carts, souvenir stands and other fan-friendly amenities. Together with an in-game entertainment program, Midwest Sliders games at Oestrike Stadium will take on all of the trappings of a typical Minor League ball game.


Gorman tapped to manage CWS ballpark construction, operations
Posted Oct. 10, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Our old friend Wil Gorman has been tapped to oversee construction and eventually manage the operations of the new $127.5-million downtown Omaha ballpark for the College World Series. Gorman most recently has been in charge of Brewers Enterprises, which manages facility rentals of Miller Park on non-gamedays, but before that he spent many years managing Tempe Diablo Stadium, the spring home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He has a baseball lineage: his father, Bill Gorman, was GM of the Omaha Royals (Class AAA: Pacific Coast League) from 1971 to 2001. More from College Baseball Digest.

Report: Moores will sell chunk of Padres as part of divorce settlement
Posted Oct. 10, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
A report from a local television station has San Diego Padres owner has John Moores selling 49 percent of the team as part of a divorce settlement, but the Padres say the report was "highly speculative." The Padres didn’t exactly deny the report, either:  “Obviously, since the Padres are part of the community estate, the matter of the Padres will need to be addressed as part of the divorce proceedings. No decision regarding the Padres has been made, and the divorce proceedings are the subject of confidential mediation. Neither John Moores nor the Padres will have any further comment on the report.” Becky Moores filed for divorce after 44 years of marriage. Moores doesn’t control all Padres stock; Jennifer Moores also owns a small share.

Mariners’ GM search looks outside the box at candidates
Posted Oct. 10, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Seattle Mariners President Chuck Armstrong has assembled an eclectic list of folks to interview as they work to fill open GM position. The list includes Mets vice president of player development Tony Bernazard, Dodgers assistant GM Kim Ng, Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava, Diamondbacks assistant GM Peter Woodfork, Diamondbacks director of player personnel Jerry DiPoto, interim GM Lee Pelekoudas and Marners vice president of international operations Bob Engle. There are some pretty good names on that list. Ng, in particular, represents someone who may be perfect to jump-start interest in the Mariners. First, she has solid baseball credentials: she gained the respect of many as a front-office worker with the White Sox (where she started as an intern) and then the Yankees. At some point she’ll be hired as a GM — yes, baseball is still mostly an old boys’ club, but that culture is on the wane — and what better place than Seattle, a liberal city where fans are more likely to realize what a milestone the hiring of Ng would be.

In memoriam: Bruce Dal Canton
Posted Oct. 10, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High Class A; Carolina League) passed along this sad news: the passing of legendary baseball figure and Pelicans’ pitching coach Bruce Dal Canton. "DC," as he was affectionately known by his legions of fans, friends and family, lost his battle with esophageal cancer on Tuesday night at the age of 66.
    "We’ve all lost an extraordinary human being and tremendous friend," said Pelicans’ manager Rocket Wheeler. "Everyone who knew him loved him. He was a teacher of irreplaceable ability in both baseball and life."
    "DC" has been the only pitching coach the Pelicans have ever known, serving in that role and guiding more than 30 hurlers to the big leagues since the franchise’s inception in 1999. He left the team during the 2008 season on May 16th after learning of a mass that was eventually discovered to be cancerous at the base of his esophagus. Braves’ roving pitching instructor Mike Alvarez finished the season as the Pelicans’ acting pitching coach.
    "DC wore the brand of baseball-man better than anyone I’ve ever been around," said Pelicans’ General Manager North Johnson. "He treated everyone he encountered with the same level of respect and kindness. It is hard to accurately express the depth of our sadness at his passing."
    A memorial service for Dal Canton will be held at the Bagnato Funeral Home in Carnegie, PA, on Saturday, October 11, at 10 a.m.

What recession? Mets sell out luxury boxes
Posted Oct. 10, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Despite the recent downturn in the economy the New York Mets have sold out all 49 luxury boxes at Citi Field, according to team officials. "We haven’t seen the effects of the economic situation, but certainly we are mindful of the economy and especially in our community and market place," said Dave Howard, executive vice-president for business operations, in an interview with Bloomberg. "We have a unique historical situation that maybe gives us a little bit of an advantage to withstand some of the challenges that the economy is presenting." Given the importance of financial institutions in the New York City economy, selling out all the suites is a pretty major accomplishment.

Ottawa votes to collect Rapidz debt — and then votes to seek team for 2009
Posted Oct. 10, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
The Ottawa City Council just sent the ultimate in mixed messages to the owners of the Ottawa Rapidz (independent; Can-Am Association) by passing two resolutions that are — to a slight extent — at odds with each other. First, the council voted a resolution to go after the Rapidz for money owed the city for basic services like water and sewer. Not unreasonable, but not necessary — we’re guessing the Ottawa water utility doesn’t need a city-council resolution to go after unpaid bills — and with the Rapidz in bankruptcy, a little futile as well. With that out of the way, the city council then passed a second resolution to direct staff to start discussions with Can-Am Association Commissioner Miles Wolff about bringing in a different team for next season. Now, we’re not saying it won’t happen, but given Ottawa’s decision to raise ballpark rent to $1 million annually in 2010, it seems rather unlikely you’ll have a lame-duck entity next year. UPDATE: Exactly what the City Council wants to do with Ottawa Stadium kinda depends on who you talk with. The resolution passed by the City Council calls for negotiations for a team for next season, and the assumption from Miles Wolff is that a new lease can be secured for $100,000 or so a season — which is still quite a bit for an independent team. The owners of the Rapidz has sought a long-term year-round lease in order to hold events besides baseball games, and that’s where the $1 million annual figure rolls in. The city is still sticking to the $1 million figure.

Dodgers seek ‘Dodgertown’ designation for ballpark area
Posted Oct. 8, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
It just seems a little wrong that the Los Angeles Dodgers are proposing federal legislation to designate the area surrounding Dodger Stadium as Dodgertown. A resolution passed by the Los Angeles City Council calls for a ZIP Code boundary encompassing 276 acres of Dodgers property between Academy Road to the north, Lookout Drive to the south, Stadium Way to the west and skirting the parking lot to Academy Road to the east be renamed as Dodgertown. (As a practical matter, it has no meaning: the Dodgers are the only inhabitants of Dodgertown.) But why now? It’s been less than a year since the Dodgers bade farewell to the original Dodgertown in Vero Beach and shifted spring-training operations to Arizona. And while the old Dodgertown designation is already fading, it’s still part of the history of the team — and one that should be honored with a little more respect.

O-Royals, Sarpy County move closer to formal ballpark discussions
Posted Oct. 8, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
The Omaha Royals (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and suburban Sarpy County are closer to formal negotiations over the scope and cost of a new ballpark, as the county board decided yesterday to pursue talks to determine the specific cost of a facility and its scope. The assumption from a county consultant indicated a new Triple-A ballpark seating 7,000 would cost $41 million — a not-unreasonable estimate. However, team president Alan Stein says he could build a new ballpark for $30 million, and there’s talk of spending even less. The big issue for county officials: they don’t want to be sucked into a bidding war with Omaha over the Royals, although it’s been pretty apparent over the last several months that there’s no great desire to give the O-Royals a fair shake at a good lease in a new downtown Omaha College World Series facility. Next up: official discussions between the two sides.

Yankees scrap last salute to Yankee Stadium
Posted Oct. 8, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
The New York Yankees have scrapped plans for one final gala at Yankee Stadium II to give fans a chance to say goodbye to the team’s longtime home. The original event called for a celebration featuring former Yankees greats and some sort of ceremony. But the Yankees decided not to hold the event. There are some practical considerations: anything of value in Yankee Stadium II is being stripped, and the way the ballpark will look in November won’t be the last memory anticipated by many fans. More from AM New York.

Curve, landlord continue negotiations on drainage issues
Posted Oct. 8, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Facility issues continue to plague the Altoona Curve (Class AA; Eastern League), as negotiations with landlord Lakemont Partnership continue. The Curve ownership wants to see drainage problems at Blair County Ballpark fixed, saying that those sort of capital investments should not come from the team. Part of the problem lies in the unique ownership of the ballpark: Blair County technically owns the facility, but it was developed and is now run by Lakemont Partnership — and it’s Lakemont balking at putting the money into fixing the drainage issues.

Chiefs shopping naming rights for ballpark
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The Peoria Chiefs (Low Class A; Midwest League) are facing some large tasks this off-season. First, the team’s naming-rights deal for O’Brien Field has expired with the O’Brien Automotive Group, so the team is shopping them to nine local businesses. Something probably should happen in the next few months, however, if the new name is to take affect for the 2009 season. Second, the team is looking for a new radio home, but it sounds like there’s a solid option with all-sports WZPN-FM very interested in a partnership.

Paulson submits MLS bid, continues work on new Bevos ballpark
Posted Oct. 8, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Merritt Paulson continues to push his plan for a new Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) ballpark and a renovation of PGE Park as a soccer-only facility. He’s submitted papers for an MLS expansion franchise predicated on these moves, and to that end he’s assembled a group of heavy hitters to seek public funding for the facility shifts. There’s no doubt an MLS team in PGE Park would thrive: the place was built for football anyway and the area is a real hotbed for American soccer. But there are some real issues involved here. First, there’s the cost. Paulson wants the public to put up $85 million to pay for both. Given the economy and the fact the public is still paying on the costs of the last renovation of PGE Park, he’ll face a lot of scrutiny from many business and political leaders. (One option: using urban-renewal funds for both projects.) Second, there’s the issue of where he wants to place the Beavers ballpark. One of the great joys of attending a Beavers game is the central location of PGE Park, and Paulson is proposing putting the ballpark in the relatively out-of-the-way Lents area of Portland. The Oregonian has a long article on the proposals and the local politics involved.

Staff approves new Waukesha ballpark; council to decide tonight
Posted Oct. 8, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Waukesha (Wis.) city staff will recommend the full City Council approve a ballpark design for Frame Park  — a final step for a summer-collegiate Northwoods League team to begin play in that Milwaukee suburb for the 2009 season. Owner Chad Bauer is proposing a privately financed 1,700-seat ballpark with a brick grandstand (shown below). In general, it sounds like the council is in favor of the proposal. One small issue is the height of the building: code limits it to 35 feet high, and the proposed building has it at 40 feet. Bauer says this could be changed if need be.

Intimidators, Rowan County reach agreement on new ballpark lease
Posted Oct. 8, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
After months of discussions, Rowan County officials and the owners of the Kannapolis Intimidators (Low Class A; Sally League) have come to a final agreement on a lease for Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium. Under the new agreement, the Smith family will pay $58,000 annually and pick up maintenance costs as well as all ballpark costs (utilities, landscaping, water/sewer, insurance). This is a change from the previous lease of $75,000 annually, with Rowan County and the city of Kannapolis picking up those additional ballpark costs. In return, the Intimidators will retain all revenue from the facility, except for two suites kept by Rowan County and the city.
    Much of this is a prelude to bigger changes requested by the Intimidators. The team now controls naming rights for the facility. In addition, Rowan County and the team will explore a sale of the ballpark to the Smith family based on a fair market value.

Tiger Stadium preservationists given until Friday to make payment
Posted Oct. 8, 2008 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
You get the feeling Tiger Stadium is nearing the last of its nine lines after the Detroit City Council extended a deadline — Friday — for Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy to come up with $219,000 to ensure the grandstand would remain standing. The group says it has $180,000 in the bank. The group’s plan for Tiger Stadium has slightly changed: the grandstand will be converted to a restaurant and bar with banquet facilities, housing Ernie Harwell’s sports memorabilia. It’s hard to fault the City Council for being a little antsy, but then again, this is Tiger Stadium we’re talking about.