The Newark Bears may be switching from the Atlantic League to the Can-Am Association, a move that may help the struggling team in the long term but could cause some headaches for both indy circuits.
It’s no secret indy ball has struggled in Newark, despite a relatively new ballpark — Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium — and a decent level of community support. This past season the Bears ranked dead-last in Atlantic League attendance and pretty clearly lost a bundle of money.
But ownership of the team has passed back and forth between outside investors and the league: founder Frank Boulton owned the Bears before selling the franchise to Thomas Cetnar, who was part of a previous ownership group. Boulton and other Atlantic League officials must sign off on the switch; Can-Am owners will be meeting this week, and the Bears are on the agenda.
The idea is that the Can-Am Association’s shorter schedule — 94 games, as opposed to the 140-game schedule favored by the Atlantic League — and lower overhead would better suit the Newark market. There’s also the chance for some decent intra-Jersey rivalries, with two other Can-Am Association teams already playing in New Jersey. History, however, might argue otherwise: It wouldn’t be the first time a team moved from the Atlantic League to the Can-Am Association, as both the Nashua Pride and Atlantic City Surf made the move. At the end of the day, the shorter season and lower overhead wasn’t enough to save either team.
We’re guessing the Can-Am Association will stay at six teams and mothball the Pittsfield Colonials, who suffered through a miserable season at Wahconah Park. Losing a team also poses complications for the Atlantic League; in the past a travel team was launched, which is a possibility here.
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