Top Menu

DBH adds Lansing Lugnuts to portfolio of MiLB teams

Lansing LugnutsIn one of the moves we hinted at discussed at the Winter Meetings, Diamond Baseball Holdings (DBH) is adding the Lansing Lugnuts (High-A; Midwest League) to its portfolio of Minor League Baseball teams.

DBH and the team announced the agreement to purchase the Lugnuts from Take Me Out to the Ballgame, L.L.C. (TMO). It is the franchise’s first ownership change since TMO purchased the Waterloo Diamonds in 1994 and brought the Lugnuts to Lansing in 1996.

Several purchases were discussed and announced at the Winter Meetings, and we expect more public unveilings of these acquisitions in coming weeks. The Lugnuts will join Triple-A’s Iowa Cubs, Memphis Redbirds, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and Gwinnett Stripers; Double-A’s Midland RockHounds, Mississippi Braves, Portland Sea Dogs and Wichita Wind Surge; High-A’s Hudson Valley Renegades and Rome Braves; and Single-A’s Augusta GreenJackets and San Jose Giants in being operated by DBH.

The Lugnuts will continue to be directed by the current front office staff, led by general manager Zac Clark, and the franchise will remain in Lansing as the High-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

“The Lugnuts have been one of the great joys in my life. It is a bittersweet decision to sell the team,” said TMO managing partner Tom Dickson via press release. “But I can promise you that DBH’s Peter Freund and Pat Battle are terrific people who love baseball, and I am confident that the Lugnuts and the City of Lansing are in good hands with them.”

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to own such an iconic franchise as the Lugnuts, built by one of the best owner/operators in the game in Tom Dickson,” said Peter Freund, CEO of DBH via press release. “We could not imagine a better city, ballpark or management team, and we look forward to being part of the Lansing community for years to come.”

The transaction will be completed subject to TMO obtaining all necessary league and City of Lansing approvals. With the purchase, DBH will assume the Lugnuts’ lease upon the finalization of the transfer. The current rights to Jackson Field extend through 2034; the intention by all parties is to keep the Lugnuts in Lansing far longer than that.

The Lugnuts have been one of the shining stars in the MiLB world. When debuting in 1996, the Lugnuts drew 538,325 fans, averaging 7,802 per game, and broke the national record for highest single-season attendance for a debuting Class-A team. In 1997, the Nuts drew 523,443, averaged 7,813 per game, hosted the All-Star Game and won the Midwest League championship. The Nuts have drawn nearly 9.5 million fans in 26 seasons – not counting the canceled 2020 MiLB season in which the team hosted the 20-game collegiate wooden-bat Lemonade League.

The team’s annual exhibition against Michigan State University, the Crosstown Showdown, has drawn well over 100,000 fans since it was introduced in 2007, producing the largest single game attendances in franchise history: 12,862 in 2008; 12,992 in 2009; and 12,997 in 2012 in a game televised on BTN.

In 2014-2015, the team embarked on an award-winning $25.5 million stadium renovation project, modernizing the facility with a 360-degree concourse, HD video board, digital ribbon boards, permanent stadium seating, refurbished clubhouses and venues, and, most significantly, a multi-use facility constructed in partnership with Gillespie Group with the Lugnuts operating The View banquet, Good Hops craft beer and burger bistro, and a 2,000-fan group venue below space for nearly 100 apartment units overlooking the outfield.

“We say in baseball that a season is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Dickson via press release. “These last 27 years have been their own marathon – at times exhilarating, at times challenging, but at all times rewarding. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. It’s been, frankly, pretty nuts what we’ve been able to accomplish. I’m grateful to the people I’ve met here and the relationships we’ve built.”

Dickson also founded Professional Sports Catering (PSC), which developed and ran concessions programs for other MiLB teams before selling it to sports concessionaire Levy.

RELATED STORIES: DBH acquisition of Midland RockHounds confirmed; Diamond Baseball Holdings announces Portland Sea Dogs purchase; Diamond Baseball Holdings adds Wichita Wind Surge to roster; more announcements expected shortlyDiamond Baseball Holdings shifts from Endeavor ownership to Silver LakeEndeavor unveils nine MiLB acquisitions under Diamond Baseball Holdings;Silver Lake, Endeavor file to buy MiLB teams; Private equity hitting Minor League Baseball?

, , ,