We've confirmed with several sources that Art Solomon, the owner of the New Hampshire and Bowling Green teams, is making a play for the Carolina League's Frederick Keys.
We've confirmed with several sources that Art Solomon, owner of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Class AA; Eastern League) and Bowling Green Hot Rods (Low Class A; Midwest League), is in talks to buy the Carolina League's Frederick Keys.
Frederick is owned by Maryland Baseball Holding, LLC, an ownership group led by Ken Young, who also owns the Albuquerque Isotopes (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), the Norfolk Tides (Class AAA; International League), the Delmarva Shorebirds (Low Class A; Sally League) and the Bowie BaySox (Class AA; Eastern League).
We spent some time at a Keys game a few weeks ago. The Frederick market is a very good one (it's a thriving Washington, D.C. exurb with a vibrant downtown and a good local economy), and Harry Grove Stadium has seen some TLC in recent seasons, as GM Dave Ziedelis has worked hard to maintain a good relationship with the city while asking for some needed repairs.
If the sale goes through, it will be an interesting transitional time for the Keys. Rumors of current parent Baltimore Orioles seeking to bring a Florida State League team to Sarasota once the renovations to Ed Smith Stadium are completed run rampant; it's hard to see Sarasota County agree to almost $30 million in ballpark renovations without some assurance High A ball wouldn't return. Also, with the increased interest in the Washington Nationals this season, an Orioles affiliation may not be as important as in the past, though having a rehabbing MLB player like Felix Pie — down from the parent team during our visit — is always nice. (That may change, however, if Bobby Valentine does indeed take the managerial reins of the Orioles, as we've repeatedly heard in recent days.) Still, Solomon will spend money to make money, and that may be just what Frederick needs. The team drew 293,438 fans last season, for an average of 4,584 per game, slightly up from 2008. The market is surely capable of more, and the right people are in place to take the franchise to the next level. So, depending on the price, it could end up being a great buy for Solomon.
It's been a busy year for Solomon. His attempt to buy the Oklahoma City RedHawks (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) from Mandalay Baseball fell through, and he also looked at buying a Sally League team before turning his attention to Frederick.
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