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Camden in the midst of baseball intrigue

Atlantic LeagueWith it looking like the Camden Riversharks (independent; Atlantic League) the team on the move to New Britain Stadium in 2016, we could see an affiliated team move to Campbell’s Field in 2017 or beyond.

With the news that the Atlantic League had conditionally approved a New Britain team in 2016 — either an expansion team or the move of an existing team — it wasn’t too long before word was out that it was likely to be Camden on the move. No surprise: the future of Campbell’s Field and the Atlantic League was already an issue earlier this year.

What is surprising is that at least one owner in the Short Season A NY-Penn League is looking to bring an affiliated team to Camden and that the Philadelphia Phillies have already signed off on the effort. The ballpark has been a big part of Camden rehabilitation efforts, and while there are certainly signs of life on the waterfront — which has some pretty cool views of the Philadelphia skyline and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge — bringing in an affiliated team to Camden would be a huge deal.

The decision is in the hands of the Camden County Improvement Authority, and a move of the Riversharks to New Britain is far from a done deal. From the Bristol Press:

The county government entity is a new landlord for the team, which has had years of financial turmoil.

The improvement authority closed in August in a deal to buy the 6,700-seat stadium, which technically had belonged to Rutgers University. But the $3.5 million purchase price went to a bank that had sued the baseball team, saying it owed $4 million.

County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli said in a statement that the team wants the stadium to be used and wants a long-term tenant that will make taxpayers whole in the deal. He also said other teams — though he did not say which ones, or if they’re affiliated with big-league clubs — have expressed interest in the stadium.

Any move of an affiliated team would be 2017 at the earliest: the deadline to apply for a 2016 move is long, long past. And to have an affiliated team move into an indy facility is certainly an interesting, unusual move. We’ve had affiliated teams move into indy markets — Aberdeen, Allentown (Lehigh Valley) — and there would need to be some upgrades to Campbell’s Field to meet affiliated standards.

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