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Wolff: We’re not ceding northeast to Diamond League

Can-Am LeagueCan-Am League Commissioner Miles Wolff says his circuit will pursue some of the same markets currently eyed by the startup independent Diamond League, including four former Can-Am markets.

Specifically listed by Wolff as being potential 2014 expansion markets for the independent Can-Am League: Atlantic City, N.J.; Worcester, Mass.; Sussex County, N.J.; Montreal and Ottawa.

“We realize that other leagues have been talking to these cities,” said Wolff, “but we believe the Can-Am League, with a strong lineup of existing cities and a nearly 20-year history, is a more logical choice for municipalities than the start-ups that have been proposed. We have been in contact with municipal officials, and have ownership groups ready to go.

“[Ottawa] officials have sent the Can-Am League the RFO (Request for Offers), and have asked us to respond. We understand that the Eastern League is currently the City of Ottawa’s first choice, but we are ready to step in should the Eastern League proposal fall through.”

There is a lot of history between the Can-Am League and four of these markets. The Worcester Tornadoes spectacularly flamed out after team ownership stopped paying bills. The Atlantic City Surf pulled up stakes because of the poor condition of the Sandcastle. Two different ownership groups fails make things work at Ottawa Stadium. And New Jersey Jackals ownership pulled the plug on the Sussex Skyhawks because of poor attendance and relatively steep rent at Skylands Park.

Of course, some things have changed since then. There is a new owner at Skylands Park eager to bring in indy baseball. City officials wisely shut down baseball in Worcester in order to make sure a stable ownership group was at land. And Atlantic City has put some money into ballpark renovations — though, we suspect, much more needed to make the ballpark usable for pro ball.

Montreal will be a challenge for anyone involved: there’s simply not a good facility in town, and Montreal officials (as well as those in the suburbs) have not shown a lot of enthusiasm for bringing back pro baseball. Indeed, with Warren Cromartie working to bring Major League Baseball back to town, finding public money for a ballpark investment will be a huge challenge.

In addition, Wolff says two additional markets are mulling a deal with the Can-Am League.

Right now the Can-Am League is at five teams and plays an interlocking schedule with the American Association, but that may not be sustainable for all involved: this means two leagues have a joint schedule with teams ranging from Winnipeg to El Paso to Newark to Quebec City.

This is a reaction to the announcement from Atlantic League founder Frank Boulton that he and other Atlantic League owners are forming the Diamond League for 2014, an independent league that will focus on younger players in a developmental environment. The Diamond League has already been associated with Worcester, Sussex County and Atlantic City.

RELATED STORIES: New for 2014: Diamond League; Boulton: Look for announcement of new indy league this month; Worcester aims for 2014 ballpark deal; Wolff: We want to be back in Worcester in 2013; Atlantic League: Big plans for 2014 and beyond; Multiple groups interested in Worcester market; Can-Am League revokes Breighner’s membership, takes over Worcester market; Small crowd sees Tornadoes’ last home gameBreighner: Tornadoes are in good financial shapeLeague may take over TornadoesTornadoes locked out of offices, team shopMore financial woes for W-Tornadoes: team uniforms seizedCanseco sues Worcester Tornadoes over unpaid salaryIndy teams fighting over Canseco?Canseco signs with Rio Grande; misses first gameJose Canseco files for bankruptcyJose Canseco resurfaces, this time in Worcester; Skylands Park debt sold; Atlantic League interested in placing team there; Future of Skylands Park in play; Atlantic League: Big plans for 2014 and beyond; Skylands Park on block; baseball unlikely for 2012; Taxes becoming huge issue for Skylands Park; Skyhawks to go dark?


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