The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Class AAA; International League) will play under the Empire State Yankees name for the upcoming season, causing a ruckus among Lackawanna County officials.
The team will play its entire schedule on road while PNC Field is renovated for the 2013 season, including 37 of their home games at Rochester’s Frontier Field, seven home games at Dwyer Stadium in Batavia, six home games in Buffalo and 10 home games in Syracuse.
“With so many games to be played in upstate New York this season we wanted to make the club feel even more at home this year. We approached the New York Yankees with a few suggestions and they actually came up with the Empire State Yankees moniker,” said Red Wings General Manager Dan Mason.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for both the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise and the other IL clubs that will be hosting them this year and we wanted to make this as much fun for our fans and the players as possible. The Empire State Yankees merchandise and logos will only be available this season so they are sure to be collectors’ items. We appreciate the NY Yankees and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees cooperation with this venture,” added Mason.
“With 60 of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team’s 2012 home games being played in the State of New York, what a fun twist to temporarily “re-brand” the team as the Empire State Yankees. As baseball fans in Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo and Batavia adopt the Yankees for the next six months this is a unique idea that will allow them to more closely identify with the team during its temporary stay,” said International League President Randy Mobley.
The move didn’t sit too well with Lackawanna County officials, who are in the process of selling the team to a Yankees/Mandalay Baseball Properties partnership for $14.6 million and working out a new lease for the renovated ballpark. County officials weren’t informed of the name change and, with tensions mounting because a deal and lease still have not been reached (ballpark construction can’t begin until the team is sold), some took offense.
“You could take them to Nebraska. They’re still the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees,” said James Timlin, chairman of the Lackawanna County Multi-Purpose Stadium Authority, in a interview with the Times-Tribune. “I wish they had contacted us first.”
Although, it sounds like SWB Yankees LLC, the entity buying the SWB Yankees, did — at least during negotiations to buy the team. Lackawanna County Commissioner Jim Wansacz says a name change has been part of the discussions and would probably be happening anyway.
The other factor: this is not an “official” name change, per International League officials. The official MiLB records will still refer to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, as well coverage on MiLB.com. So you can write this off as a marketing move.
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