There may be nobody better—or perhaps worse, depending on your stance—to call the unveiling of the new Yankee Stadium than Bob Costas.
There is no denying that Costas is a diehard, and very knowledgeable, Yankee fan and there is no doubt that he’ll be waxing on when he returns to the baseball broadcast booth for the first time since Oct. 17, 2000. The April 16 contest against the Indians (what, the Red Sox weren’t available?) also marks Costas’ MLB Network debut.
I have to admit that I’m excited about the prospect of Costas and Harold Reynolds sharing a broadcast booth, along with Jim Kaat. It’ll also be interesting to see the MLB Network’s game production.
The MLB Network released its Thursday Night Baseball broadcast schedule, which begins April 9 with the Brewers at Giants.
Two World Series championships couldn’t bring out Marlins fans. Hopefully a new ballpark will do the trick.
After more than a decade of financial uncertainty while pushing for a permanent home, the Marlins finally landed one when the Miami-Dade Commission voted 9 to 4 to approve construction of a $634 million, 37,000-seat retractable roof stadium on the grounds of the Orange Bowl.
”Ten years is a long time. Eventually it was going to come. Wow, I’m very happy, very pleased,” team owner Jeffrey Loria told the Miami Herald.
The only remaining obstacle will be selling the necessary stadium bonds in a challenging economy by a July deadline. The county will pay the bulk of the stadium costs through tourist taxes and bond referendums while the Marlins will pay $120 million in the later years of construction and another $35 to repay the county for borrowed money.
• Miami Herald columnist Greg Cote says that with a new ballpark the Marlins are finally home.
"Our best days in the big leagues until now have been about simply having a team," Cote writes. "Monday may have been the best day of all because it was about keeping a team, finally stamping a sense of permanence on a club struggling to grow without roots."
• Sun Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde says Loria worked the count against county commissioners to get a better deal. He notes that a year ago Loria offered $212 million for a ballpark. Now the team is paying a little more than $150 million.
The Palm Beach Post’s Dave George says give Loria credit for getting a deal done.
Portland’s New Deal Could Bring Ballpark
Triple-A Portland’s hopes for a new ballpark got a boost when team owner, Meritt Paulson, was awarded a new MLS soccer team. As part of the deal, the city is required to turn PGE Park — currently home to the Beavers — into a soccer-only facility. However Paulson will need to generate over $80 million in funding for the two projects.
An article in the VV Daily Press addresses the future of high Class A High Desert, noting that it is unlikely the team will stay in town when their lease expires after the 2010 season. That is hardly news, but I did find this quote by Brett Sports CEO Andy Bilig at the bottom of the piece rather interesting.
“Nothing, absolutely nothing will change in 2009,” Billig said. “Operations, ownership, not one thing will change for 2009. Everything will remain the same for 2009. Of that we are certain.”
High Desert owner Bobby Brett recently purchased Rancho Cucamonga and said that the Mavericks are now up for sale and that they are looking to sell the team quickly. It would seem that a sale of the team could create changes in High Desert this season, depending on how long it takes to get the necessary approvals of the deal done. Brett said he expects the Rancho sale to be completed around July. (I’ll have more on this soon.)
A Sounds Investment
An interesting piece from a few days ago about how Triple-A Nashville’s new owners are counting on a new marketing blitz and $2.5 million in ballpark renovations to re-spark interest in the Sounds.
This will certainly be an interesting situation to follow, as the owners theory supports the belief that minor league officials have long been preaching: that the sport is well situated to withstand a recession, even one as great as this, because people will still be looking for local entertainment that is both family friendly and inexpensive. Whether Nashville is able to overcome the economy will certainly be a test-case for the sport’s overall health.
One of the venerable characters in minor league baseball has decided to call it quits.
Bill Valentine, who has spent the past 33 years as Double-A Arkansas’ executive vice president, announced today that he is leaving the club. The Little Rock native spent 40 years with the Travelers, working his way up from clubhouse attendant to being named general manager in 1976.
"I’ve been in baseball for almost 60 years," the 77-year-old Valentine said. "Over the past couple ofyears, I think the daily grind has gotten to me a bit. Most nights I have been the last person to leave the ballpark, and I’m usually here seven days a week. I’ve just gotten tired."
Valentine had previously expressed his interest in retiring once Dickey-Stephens Park opened in 2007, but found his services were needed in operating such an expansive, state-of-the-art facility — particularly compared to the club’s old home, Ray Windser Field.
Valentine is a six-time winner of the Texas League executive of the year award. He’ll continue to serve the rest of his term on Minor League Baseball’s board of trustees.
"I’ve been lucky to work so closely with one of the true legends of professional sports," Travs GM Pete Laven said. "I know I can speak for hundreds of people across the country when I say that we owe Bill a debt of gratitude for our careers. He saved baseball twice in Central Arkansas, and our ballpark has his fingerprints all over it."
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