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Endangered Beetles in Alexandria

Alexandria BeetlesAfter three years of losses, Shawn Reilly is ready to sell the Alexandria Beetles (summer collegiate; Northwoods League) for a relative pittance, as the challenges of operating in a small market caught up with him.

Reilly bought the team three years ago from Jim and Jill Wagner, taking out loans to finance the deal. Since then, he says the team would be profitable except for one thing: debt service. From the Echo Press:

Reilly said the gross revenue for the team has grown 5-10 percent in the last three years. He believes that growth will continue to the point where new ownership can make a profit if they come into it debt free.

“It would be profitable immediately,” he said. “When we purchased it, we had debt. We had loans that we took out, and if you got rid of those loans, we would have at least broke even this year…the potential is still there. We just can’t get there quick enough. But based on the numbers from this year, they can turn a profit.”

Maybe; we’re also talking about vendors going unpaid, according to Reilly. Alexandria is a challenging market. There are only 11,070 residents in all of Douglas County, but that number swells in the summer when hordes of tourists and cabin owners arrive. In general, these folks aren’t interested in baseball: it’s a dangerous and expansive fallacy to assume you can market baseball to transients and tourists, as we’ve seen time and time again in the baseball world. Alex is the smallest market in the Northwoods League, and Knute Nelson Field is a nice, though extremely limited facility.

So Reilly has until the end of October to reach some sort of resolution for 2013. He’s listing the team for $125,000, down from the $375,000 he paid three teams ago. The Northwoods League has a lot of things on the horizon for 2014 — like Kenosha and Kalamazoo — but there’s not an immediate replacement for the Beetles in 2013. 


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