A name and a move to a new downtown ballpark was supposed to bring some new life to the former Winston-Salem Warthogs. Now, the Dash faces some huge challenges to sell the team to a skeptical public; one solution may be new faces in the ownership group.
This was supposed to be a triumphant year for the Winston-Salem Dash (High Class A; Carolina League). A new name and a new downtown were designed to push the team to the next level in terms of attendance and merchandise sales.
Those dreams are dead. The downtown ballpark sits half-finished, with no work being done on the facility; contractors, meanwhile, are suing and issuing liens because of nonpayment. Attendance at Wake Forest Baseball Park, formerly Ernie Shore Field, is measured in the hundreds, not the thousands, and issues with city permits meant no beer sales at the beginning of the season. The team laid off several employees in recent days.
With a letter to potential season-ticket buyers, team president Kevin Terry attempts to put a positive spin on the issues. It's not a bad first effort, but more is needed.
Construction on the ballpark has stalled as Billy Prim and Andrew "Flip" Filipowski continue to negotiate a buyout of the team by Prim. We're told that's true in the broadest sense, but the complicated truth has to do with both owners dealing with financial issues, not exactly a rare situation in today's economy. To alleviate these financial issues, there's the strong chance Prim will bring in new investors to buy out most of Filipowski's share — and maybe a little more, if what we hear about current negotiations is correct. The team is now facing a March 2010 deadline to have the ballpark completed. While that sounds like a long ways away, it's not when you consider the long list of items that must be completed — settling claims by subcontractors, receive league approval for ownership changes — before construction on the new ballpark begins. For Prim, it's not just a matter of coming up with the cash to buy out Filipowski — it's coming up with the cash to settle a lot of claims, planning adequately for 2010 and fulfill all his obligations to the city. And, just maybe, put a fresh new face on the Dash as the team wooes a reluctant fan base.
RELATED STORIES: New Winston-Salem ballpark unlikely to open this season; Dash to play at Ernie Shore Field through June 17 — at least; Dash announces new mascot; still working on new ballpark; Prim seeks $6 million in outside financing to complete ballpark; Will new Winston-Salem ballpark open on time?; Prim sought additional city financing for new W-S ballpark; More details released on Winston-Salem ballpark upgrades; Prim: New Winston-Salem ballpark may not open in April; New for 2009: The Winston-Salem Dash; New Winston-Salem ballpark opening may be delayed
Subscribers to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter see articles, such as this one, before they're posted to the site. You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.