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Atlantic League lease approved by New Britain

Atlantic LeagueThe New Britain Common Council approved a lease with the independent Atlantic League to have a team playing at New Britain Stadium in 2016, but many things are still up in the air.

The lease is priced at $50,000 more than what the New Britain Rock Cats (Class AA; Eastern League) paid this season, but the Atlantic League team will retain 90 percent of the parking revenues — revenue that went to the city in the past. In addition, the Atlantic League team will keep 90 percent of any naming-rights revenue, with the rest going to the city.

New Britain Stadium opened for a new team with the move of the Rock Cats to Hartford next season. Though the lease won’t kick in until Jan. 1, Frank Boulton says a name-the-team effort will begin shortly, with the new name, logo and branding set to be unveiled sometime in October.

And things are truly up in the air about the team heading to New Britain, with much depending on what happens in Camden. Despite talk that the Riversharks are negotiating to stay in Campbell’s Field, the Camden County Improvement Authority (CCIA) has also been talking with a short-season NY-Penn League owner about a potential lease and upgrades to the ballpark to meet MiLB specs. Those upgrades have been priced at around $4 million, with the possibility of the MiLB owner and the authority splitting the cost. Still, despite the talks, there’s nothing close to a firm agreement to bring MiLB to Camden — which would cause the CCIA to turn to keeping the Atlantic League in town — and there may be other New Jersey cities and colleges willing to look at a new ballpark for a NY-Penn League team.

So, in short, we don’t know what team could end up in New Britain. Two weeks ago we noted the potential of another Atlantic League team potentially moving to New Britain, and not much has changed: the Atlantic League owner is seeking to bring another NY-Penn League team to his ballpark, but nothing is finalized. It’s all a fascinating dance behind the scenes.

RELATED STORIES: Camden in midst of baseball intrigue; Atlantic League conditionally commits to New Britain; Atlantic League ponders New Britain team; After Rock Cats leave, what becomes of New Britain Stadium?;

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