In a deal to be announced Aug. 1, Connecticut Defenders owner Lou DiBella will move the franchise to Richmond's Diamond and work with Chuck Domino, president of the Lehigh Valley and Reading teams, on a new management plan.
In a deal to be announced Aug. 1, Connecticut Defenders (Class AA; Eastern League) owner Lou DiBella will move the franchise to Richmond's Diamond and work with Chuck Domino, president of the Lehigh Valley and Reading teams, on a new management plan, according to multiple sources in minor-league baseball. In the short term, at least, DiBella will retain ownership of the team.
It's not the move anyone involved particularly wanted. DiBella sought to sell the team to a Richmond group, who couldn't raise the $13 million needed to complete the sale. The team will play at least two years in The Diamond, even though MiLB officials have said the facility isn't suitable for professional baseball; their solution was a new downtown ballpark.
But it's a move that's necessary for MiLB keeping what everyone considers to be a very good market; the alternative was to let Peter Kirk and the independent Atlantic League proceed with a $28 million makeover of the ballpark and establish operations. The Defenders have struggled for years, so this allows the Eastern League to upgrade. And there are others pleased with this: it allows the Rich family to move the Jamestown Jammers (short season; NY-Penn League) to Norwich as soon as 2010.
Be warned this is not a done deal; while a game plan for some basic Diamond renovations is in place and some team officials are mapping out a game plan to launch operations, the Richmond Metropolitan Authority needs to sign off on the plan — though no one expects any opposition.
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