Eastern League owners will meet shortly to decide the fate of a proposed move by the Connecticut Defenders to Richmond. The deal, however, has some owners grumbling about the process.
While the move of the Connecticut Defenders (Class AA; Eastern League) to Richmond is seen by most in baseball as being inevitable, it hasn't benefited from a smooth process, as what should have been a simple deal — moving an underperforming franchise to a significantly better market with a decent facility already in place — has been complicated by bad feelings among some league owners over the process.
We're not going to get into the specifics — the raw internals are interesting for insiders, less so for casual fans — but we will say we've been told there are additional agreements in place involving other Eastern League owners providing services to the Defenders should a new ballpark arise. These agreements aren't necessarily unusual, but they have stirred some bad feelings from other Eastern League owners, particularly those owners who expressed a strong interest in the Richmond market and would have moved their team in a heartbeat without the need for additional services provided by Eastern League owners. Really, the issue has been how the process has been handled, though, not the actual agreements. The executive team for the team is already in place, with two highly respected operators — the R-Phils' Chuck Domino as president and the Altoona Curve's Todd Parnell as GM — signed on.
A key meeting on the franchise shift is scheduled for today, we are told. It's not likely the bad feelings will rise to the level of anyone working to scuttle the deal — especially when we're so late in the process — but the move has ended up being surprisingly contentious, even with the N.A. already signing off on the move.
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