As we noted yesterday, the transaction has received approval from both the Pioneer League and Minor League Baseball and is awaiting final approval from Major League Baseball.
This will be the third team under the Main Street Baseball umbrella: The Mustangs join the High Desert Mavericks (High Class A; California League) and the Quad Cities River Bandits (Low Class A; Midwest League) as MiLB teams led by Dave Heller and Bob Herrfeldt.
The Mustangs front office staff will remain the same, led by 2014 Pioneer League Executive of the Year Gary Roller, a Billings native who has worked 22 seasons for the team. This September, the Billings franchise won its ninth league championship in 41 seasons as a Cincinnati Reds affiliate. The Mustangs and Reds hold the longest ongoing affiliation in all of short-season and rookie-level baseball.
“Bob and I are delighted to purchase one of the most storied franchises in minor league baseball, the Billings Mustangs. The community, the team and the front office have built a wonderful tradition of mutual support and cooperation that has continued for decades, and we are excited to build on that great tradition,” said Main Street Baseball President Dave Heller. “This is a special franchise and a beautiful ballpark, and we are excited to take this great club and this wonderful venue to even higher heights and provide fans and people throughout the region with championship-level baseball and the very best in affordable, family-friendly fun and entertainment.”
“It is a pleasure to have found a pair of gentlemen in the baseball business to merge with the Mustangs and take our baseball team to the next level of success,” said Woody Hahn, President of the Billings Mustangs. “Their goal is to have a continued long term relationship with the city and continue to offer Billings professional baseball. Welcome Dave Heller and Bob Herrfeldt.”
“We are pleased to welcome Dave Heller, Bob Herrfeldt, and partners to the Pioneer League, and look forward to the continued success of the Billings Mustangs, both on and off the field,” said Pioneer League President Jim McCurdy. “We also express our appreciation for the efforts of Woody Hahn and all of those who have created the enduring legacy of the Billings Mustangs. The new ownership group will build on our Pioneer League tradition to bring the best of baseball and family entertainment to the Billings community and coming generations.”
“First, it has been a real pleasure working with the Billings Mustangs organization over the years as a successful program,” said Jim Iverson, Billings Mustangs Board member and Mustang Booster member. “Bob Herrfeldt and Dave Heller are very strong community supporters, and their expertise will strengthen the program.”
“Having been a promoter of the Billings Mustangs for over 40 years, the Mustang Boosters look forward to furthering this relationship with Dave and Bob,” said Bryon Stiller, Mustang Booster President. “We share the same philosophy of ‘giving back to our community,’ so, I feel that this will be a great partnership.”
The Billings purchase adds to a banner year for Main Street Baseball.
The Quad Cities River Bandits, purchased by Main Street Baseball in 2007, set the all-time record for per-game average attendance for the Midwest League franchise with 3,885 fans per game. For the fourth time in seven seasons, Ballpark Digest recognized the River Bandits for the nation’s Best Ballpark Improvement, garnered by the first Ferris wheel inside a minor league ballpark. Modern Woodmen Park also opened a Mediacom Drop’N Twist, Space Camp gyroscope and 300-foot zip line, and it remained open every weekend of the summer for amusement rides. Through the Bandit Scholars Program, the River Bandits also awarded a record three college scholarships to cover the entire first year of college tuition for area students, and donated more than $280,000 this year alone within the Quad Cities community.
The High Desert Mavericks, purchased by Main Street Baseball in 2010, boosted their per-game average attendance from 2013 to 2014 by 55 percent – the highest increase of any team in Minor League Baseball that did not move into a new ballpark in another state for the 2014 season. The team sold naming rights for its home ballpark to Heritage Medical Group. The Mavericks also sold sponsorship of the ballpark’s conference center, diamond club, suites and mascot, while selling out its eight outdoor boxes and all its outfield fence signage. The High Desert organization also made several improvements to the ballpark and playing surface.