To provide improved balance to its geographical alignment, the summer-collegiate Prospect League is eyeing possible expansion options in its eastern footprint.
For the 2018 season, the Prospect League is fielding 11 teams. That number is slated to grow to 12 in 2019 with the addition of the Cape Catfish (Cape Girardeau, MO). Right now the circuit features three teams each in Illinois and Indiana, plus two in Ohio and one in Missouri. That leaves the Butler BlueSox as the only team in Pennsylvania, and the West Virginia Miners–who play in Beckley–as the lone club in their state.
Time will tell what options the circuit pursues, but it does appear that the Prospect League wants to bolster its eastern footprint. That will come through expansion, not the relocation of existing teams, as recently indicated by commissioner Dennis Bastien. Such a strategy could help teams like the Miners in managing their travel expenses. More from The Register-Herald:
“With the upward direction our league is taking and very rapidly moving forward, we are looking for the right fit of other cities and areas either within our current footprint, on our perimeter or near it,” Bastien wrote in a statement. “With the launch of our new television network, PLTV, and several new corporate partners, now is the time to develop new franchises in areas that the league needs to balance with our western and southern clubs.
“We’re hoping that possibilities present themselves to our eastern region. As we develop these potential areas, we will also be seeking qualified franchise owner groups or individuals that see the tremendous upside and growth of the Prospect League. The summer collegiate model is truly an exciting and profitable venture, not to mention the economic impact, quality of life and community recognition nationwide that makes it a major added plus to any economy and region.”
All of this is, of course, is music to Doug Epling, who owns the Miners with his wife Kay….
All that travel is obviously rough on the Miners’ bottom line. Epling says the team spends $37,000 on transportation alone. Throw in $30,000 for hotels and $12,000-$15,000 for meals, and it’s easy to see why everyone involved would love to see more eastern-located teams.
The Prospect League began its 2018 season on Wednesday. The league is currently split into two divisions, including a five-team East Division and a six-team West Division.