Though previous discussions of attracting professional baseball have led nowhere, Stamford officials and business leaders still say that they would like to see a team in the Connecticut city.
Stamford has made public pushes for baseball in the past. The city tried to attract a Double-A franchise in the early 1990’s, and several years ago a study was published stating that Stamford could be an attractive major league market. For reasons that were noted here at the time, the findings of that report never gained much traction within baseball circles, and Stamford has not been seriously floated as a possibility for a relocating major, minor, or independent league franchise.
Despite that, many in community have voiced their interest in a franchise, perhaps even an entry in the Atlantic League. There are no serious discussions between Stamford and a current Atlantic League team about relocating, and the placement of any franchise—expansion or existing—would require an additional layer of approval, as Stamford is within 35 miles of the Bridgeport Bluefish.
Bluefish owner Frank Boulton says that he and the league would be open to discussing a third team in Connecticut, where Stamford would join the Bluefish and the New Britain Bees. One major variable to keep in mind, however, is that Stamford does not currently offer an adequate facility, requiring a new ballpark.
Local officials—including state representative William Tong—express interest in a team, but with public funds scarce at this point, it would require a good deal of maneuvering to pay for a ballpark. More from the Stamford Advocate:
In an era when the state constantly grapples with budget deficits, a new ballpark or arena probably would receive limited, if any, public funding.
“I would be very skeptical of a project that requires a majority or extremely significant public investment,” Tong said. “We should make the investment only if we have a high degree of confidence that the city and residents here are going to do well in that deal, meaning taxpayers and the city would make a significant return on that investment.”
Pete Gioia, economist for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, also said a new team would need to rely on private-sector funding.
“I think you’d need some significant sponsorship or someone with deep pockets to build a suitable stadium,” Gioia said. “I think there is an opportunity in terms of local corporate interest in ginning up attendance in (ballpark) boxes, once a stadium is completed. People love baseball, so you’re going to get attendance.”
Without an ownership group or ballpark funding plan in place, Stamford faces long odds in attracting a team. Talk may continue on a local level, but for now the move of franchise to Stamford has a long way to go before it becomes a serious discussion.
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