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Pacific Association returns in 2014 with new Sonoma team

Sonoma Stompers

The independent Pacific Association returns for the 2014 season with six teams, including five incumbents and a new franchise, the Sonoma Stompers.

The five returning teams; San Rafael Pacifics, BayCal Lumberjacks, Vallejo Admirals, Na Koa Ikaika of Maui and Hawaii Stars — teams that also participated in the 2013 Pacific Association season.

Members of the San Rafael Pacifics front office will also be part of the Stompers front office. Owned and operated by Redwood Sports and Entertainment, LLC, the Stompers will play their home games at Arnold Field in downtown Sonoma.

“Sonoma County knows what baseball can mean to a community,” said Sonoma Stompers General Manager Theo Fightmaster. “This organization is extremely excited about bringing professional baseball back to the area, and continue the great tradition that the Sonoma County Crushers began in 1995. It’s our hope that we can fill that void that’s been missing in our community since they left.”

Team President Mike Shapiro believes the Sonoma Stompers can bring much more to the community aside from high-quality professional baseball.

“This is about, fun, low-cost family entertainment during the summer months,” Shapiro said. “The Stompers will play exciting baseball, give local kids an opportunity for summer jobs, and bring a lot of community benefits to Sonoma County.”

Redwood Sports and Entertainment, LLC owns the exclusive Pacific Association territory rights for Marin and Sonoma County. RSE is committed to providing the highest quality entertainment experience to its fans and to enhancing the quality of life in the Sonoma and Sonoma County communities through community outreach program and identity campaign that promotes the partnership between the team and the community.

Here’s the front office for the Stompers:

Managing Principal Owner Eugene Lupario graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and worked for the E&J Gallo Winery immediately out of school. Over the course of the next eight years, he took on many roles during his tenure, including time in the winery’s Marketing Department in Modesto, Calif.

In 1996 Lupario left Gallo to help found Silicon Valley Staffing Group, where he is responsible for sales and recruiting efforts, and oversees the direction of the organization.

Lupario has coached in the Twin Cities Little League for most of the past decade, and is an active board member for the league. He also is involved with Camp Okizu — a Novato-based foundation that provides free summer camps for children with cancer.

President Michael Shapiro is a veteran of over 25 years in the sports and entertainment industries. His career includes service as a senior executive and legal counsel of 5 sports franchises, with extensive oversight of all aspects of sports team management and operations, including legal, facility oversight, HR, and finance. Mike began his career as VP and General Counsel of the San Francisco Giants. He has served as Senior Counsel to the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Thrashers. He recently served as the Washington Nationals Senior VP for Business Affairs.

Mike currently resides in Larkspur, CA with his wife. He has two sons, is Managing Partner of a sports consultancy, the Redwood Sports and Entertainment Group (RSEG); and teaches Team and Facility Operations at the University of San Francisco Sport Management graduate program.

Owner Brian Sobel has been the principal consultant for Sobel Communications, located in Petaluma, for over twenty years. Sobel has many years of experience in the corporate and public sectors. In the public sector Sobel has served as a planning commissioner and vice mayor of Petaluma, California, and been a candidate for the California State Assembly.

Sobel is past chairman of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority. Currently he is a member and past president of the 4th Agricultural District, appointed by the Governor of California. Sobel is also a member of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Board of Directors. His non-profit services include duties as president of the Board of Directors of Northbay Ecumenical Homes and a corporate officer and trustee of the Cedars Foundation of Ross. Sobel is also past-president of the Board of Directors of the Petaluma Area Chamber of Commerce and is currently a director of the Bank of Marin, headquartered in Novato, California.

General Manager Theo Fightmaster was the Director of Operations for the Pacifics, playing an integral part in the launching of the team in 2012. For the Pacifics, he served as the director of media relations, ticket sales and social media. He also served as an account manager, acting as a liaison between the club and several of its corporate sponsors.

Fightmaster was the College Beat Writer for the Marin Independent Journal where he also had the opportunity to cover the San Francisco Giants throughout the 2010 pennant race and postseason run and eventual World Series championship. More recently, he covered local government affairs as well as police and fire issues for The Ark Newspaper in Tiburon. He has won multiple awards for his work as a journalist.

From 2003 – 2007, he served as an associate production manager with Kwokman Productions, Fightmaster oversaw crews for ESPN live events, such as: Sunday Night Baseball, Major League All-Star Weekend, Monday and Sunday Night Football and various other live telecasts for ESPN, ABC and HBO.


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