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WCL expands to Yakima for 2014, subject to ballpark lease

West Coast LeagueThe summer-collegiate West Coast League is working on a lease for Yakima County Stadium, beginning in 2014, as a group led by Walla Walla Sweets ownership has been announced.

Yakima County Stadium was formerly home to the Yakima Bears (short season A; Northwest League). The team ended operations in Yakima last year after several years of work on a new ballpark and will open the 2013 season as the Hillsboro Hops.

Awarded the market: Pacific Baseball Ventures, LLC (PBV), led by wireless communications investors John Stanton, Theresa Gillespie and Mikal Thomsen. Thomsen is also the managing partner of the Tacoma Rainiers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). Members of the group include Peter van Oppen of Trilogy Equity Partners, former Major League Baseball All-Star Jeff Cirillo, publisher and CEO Greg Shaw, and Zachary Fraser, VP/GM of the Sweets. The group founded the Sweets in 2009, starting play in 2010.

“We are excited to be provided the opportunity to bring professionally operated, community-centered baseball back to a community that is an historical and cultural treasure in the Pacific Northwest,” Fraser said. “We’ve experienced great success in Walla Walla and will bring that same energy, focus on fan experience, and competitive baseball to a great community with incredible history in the game like Yakima.”

The addition of Yakima puts the WCL at 12 for 2013, assuming all existing teams return. In addition, the league has been exploring additional markets in California (Chico, Redding) and Idaho (Coeur d’Alene).

RELATED STORIES: Possible WCL expansion to northern Cal led by big names; West Coast League at 11 for 2013; New for 2013: Medford Rogues; Medford take initial steps toward WCL team; New for 2013: Victoria HarbourCats; Walkers expand baseball holdings to Klamath Falls


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