League presidents were reportedly informed Friday by St. Pete that the shift of two franchises from the California League to the Carolina League was canned.
League presidents were reportedly informed Friday by St. Pete that the shift of two franchise from the California League to the Carolina League for the 2010 season was canned.
The decision isn’t a complete surprise, especially when Bakersfield Blaze owner D.G. Elmore, owner of one of the two teams slated to move, said a few weeks ago he was willing to look at a new ballpark in that city. But the letter from MiLB President Pat O’Conner makes it official.
Looking back, it’s easy to see why the decision was made; moving two franchises is a daunting task. Though the High Desert Mavericks and Bakersfield Blaze owners were willing to be bought out, and plenty of ownership groups were willing to buy a team in the Carolina League (especially when buying a franchise at Cal League prices), matching the two sides of the transaction was hard in pure financial terms. Add to that the fact there really are no suitable open markets in the Carolina League footprint: the summer-collegiate Coastal Plain League has done a pretty good job of establishing strong footprints in North Carolina cities like Wilson, Wilmington and Fayetteville — citties that in the past would have been perfectly fine temporary homes for a Class A team.
Where this leaves Brett Sports, owner of the High Desert Mavericks, and D.G. Elmore, owner of the Blaze, remains to be seen. Elmore has already indicated willingness to look at staying at a new Bakersfield ballpark, though we don’t think that’s likely to happen, and at some point MiLB has to pull the plug on a team playing at Sam Lynn Ballpark, which doesn’t come close to meeting standards. Brett Sports faces a different issue: the Mavericks’ lease with Adelanto for Mavericks Stadium ends after the 2010 season, and Adelanto officials are ready to sell the ballpark to private developers — though, we must note, those plans were made before national financial meltdowns at the end of 2008. Private developers may not be lining up to redevelop the ballpark land these days.
Subscribers to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter see sneak previews of articles before they’re posted to the site. You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.