Recent reports suggested that the United Shore Professional Baseball League will expand to four teams next season, and the league is now offering more details about that plan.
In a story at the end of last week, we discussed some information about the USPBL’s fourth team, which would begin play next season. Now league chairman and founder Andy Appleby has since stated further plans for the team, confirming that it will be in place for the 2017 campaign.
A longer term issue for the USPBL’s next franchise is its ballpark. The league has previously stated a desire to grow beyond Utica, MI and Jimmy Johns Field and begin reaching new ballparks and markets. The expansion team could start to set the wheels for that strategy in motion, but with a new ballpark not up for grabs next season, the league is developing another plan. More from Crain’s Detroit Business:
Fans and corporate sponsors in 2017 will have a more dynamic choice of games: Appleby said he’ll add a to-be-named fourth team at Jimmy John’s Field, a squad that eventually will relocate to a new stadium elsewhere in the Midwest in 2018. He said he’s not yet determined where his next stadium will be built, other than in the Midwest. Several cities have contacted him to express interest about being home to a USPBL stadium, he said, but he didn’t name them.
Groundbreaking will have to happen by April 1 for a new stadium to be ready for the 2018 season, he added. Financially, he expects to be able to build a new stadium less expensively, around $12 million, compared to what was built in Utica along M-59. His long-term goal is eight or nine more stadiums.
“This was our showcase here to build other ballparks in the future,” he said. “The next one may have fewer seats and suites.”
Midwest would imply that the league could look beyond Michigan, but regardless it makes sense to target 2018 as the date for a new ballpark opening. Barring a move to a market with an existing facility–something that does not look to be on the table right now–there is no way to have a ballpark other than Jimmy Johns Field in place for next season.
Earlier this year, Appleby said that the longterm goal for the USPBL is to reach 20 teams in 10 ballparks across the Midwest. While that might years away, the fourth team will add to the intrigue at Jimmy Johns Field next season, perhaps facilitating a strong followup to its debate campaign.
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