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Atlantic League conditionally commits to New Britain

Atlantic LeaguePro baseball will return to New Britain Stadium in 2016, as the independent Atlantic League has conditionally approved an expansion or existing team to play there.

Final approval is subject to successful lease negotiations, sign off by New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart and the New Britain Common Council, and the Atlantic League Board of Directors. The stadium is available with the move of the New Britain Rock Cats (Class AA; Eastern League) to Hartford next season.

“We still have work to do but are very encouraged by our discussions with the City and the hearty reception Central Connecticut has given to keeping professional baseball in New Britain,” said Atlantic League Founder Frank Boulton. “We look forward to continued progress and are hopeful this will happen in short order.”

Upon final approval, an existing or expansion Atlantic League team will succeed the outgoing Rock Cats at New Britain Stadium beginning next April.

“Considering that the Rock Cats played their final home game just two days ago, for us to receive this news today is just huge for this City and for fans and families across Connecticut who love coming to New Britain Stadium and having the time of their lives,” said New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart. “The Atlantic League and Frank Boulton have been wonderful partners throughout this process and we look forward to building a strong and mutually rewarding relationship with them over many years to come.”

The proviso that an existing team could be moved to New Britain is an interesting one. There’s been plenty of changes in ownership suites in the league the past year, but most of the teams — Bridgeport Bluefish, Camden Riversharks, Lancaster Barnstormers, Long Island Ducks, Somerset Patriots, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, Sugar Land Skeeters, and York Revolution — are considered to be on solid footing, though a few of them have faced some issues that past few years. Expansion would probably mean adding another team as well for league balance: everyone tends to hate the necessary evil that is the league travel team.

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