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It’s official: Defenders to Richmond

The Eastern League and Richmond officials today announced the Connecticut Defenders will relocate to The Diamond for the 2010 season and spend $1.5 million on ballpark upgrades.

The Eastern League and Richmond officials today announced the Connecticut Defenders will relocate to The Diamond, with the franchise adopting a new moniker for the 2010 season.

The press conference announcing the move is going on at this very moment; we'll pass along more details as we have them. We had previously reported Lou DiBella would retain ownership of the franchise, with Chuck Domino, formerly head of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and Reading Phillies, coming in as Chief Executive Manager and Todd "Parney" Parnell, former Altoona Curve GM, signing on as vice president/COO; Lou DiBella just confirmed both in the press conference and announced that Bill Papierniak, former GM of the Daytona Cubs (High Class A; Florida State League) is the new GM. Nice to see Parney in action; he's one of the good guys in minor-league ball. He let out a very interesting point of trivia: DiBella was a college roommate of Chuck Greenberg, the owner of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High Class A; Carolina League) and Parney's former employer in Altoona and Myrtle Beach.

It sounds like the team will not be seeking a new ballpark, at least in the short term: "We'll be in this Diamond for a while," DiBella says, adding that he plans on investing in the ballpark for the long haul. Domino added in his comments that he's committed to building a facility that would attract a top-notch major-league affiliate, spending $1.5 million on the facility, another sign that talk of a new Richmond ballpark is dead for now. However, with the team signing only a two-year lease with three one-year options you can bet there will be talk of a new facility down the road; that can has basically been kicked down the road.

To begin with, the team is installing 3,500 new seats in the bowl and renovating the suites with new windows and seats. In addition, a new videoboard, renovated clubhouses, indoor batting cages, kids' play area and team store will be installed by the team. The team also announced an immediate name-the-team contest, with a winner chosen by Oct. 15.

One issue that pops up with the move: what will become of the Norwich market. We continue to hear the Jamestown Jammers (short season; NY-Penn League) is the team on the move, something we expect to happen in the next three weeks. That would, in theory, open up the Jamestown market either for a Can-Am team or a summer-collegiate franchise.

RELATED STORIES: Key decisions due on Connecticut/Richmond move this week; DiBella to keep Defenders, move team to Richmond; Opening Day Partners, HNTB propose radical overhaul of Richmond's Diamond; Sale of Connecticut Defenders scrapped; New Richmond ballpark can't happen without city assistance: consultants; Community support lacking for Richmond ballpark proposalMiLB: New ballpark still preferred route in RichmondBostic: It makes no sense to renovate The Diamond; Richmond baseball study didn't consider renovated Diamond, stacks deck for new downtown ballpark; Richmond ballpark consulting deal draws criticism; Norwich approves Defenders lease transfer; Richmond to study new ballpark; Defenders ballpark lease transfer on tap for next week; new team for Norwich chosen?; Renovated Diamond may do in RichmondMiLB to Richmond: Show us the ballpark plan; Richmond group applies for permission to buy team; New Richmond ballpark would rely on sales-tax rebates; Richmond group says it's close to buying team

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