By JJ Cooper
Considering the state of the economy, the 2009 season looks to be a survival test for independent leagues, but the recession has already claimed its first victims.
The Can-Am League’s Atlantic City Surf announced in late March that they were shutting down after a deal to sell the team to a new ownership group fell through. The after effects of that decision were quickly felt in Ottawa. The Voyageurs, which had been taken over by the league after an unsuccessful first season as the Rapidz, were quickly shut down as well, leaving the Can-Am League with only six teams and a completely reworked schedule.
“It’s not one of the great days for the Can-Am League,” said league commissioner Miles Wolff from Ottawa, where he had to inform seven full-time staff members that they were losing their jobs immediately.
“In the fall, people have time to get jobs. In this case nobody saw it coming. Some 40 ballplayers (for Ottawa and Atlantic City) had jobs that now don’t. Now with every (affiliated )team in spring training releasing players, there are some 500 players out there without jobs. A month ago, most of these guys would have gotten picked up, now . . . “
The league, which had planned to spend roughly $50,000 per team to subsidize the operations in Ottawa, is also busy trying to cancel orders for hats, uniforms and the variety of other materials needed for any team. It’s currently refunding season ticket holders for their deposits and payments.
The Surf have lost money every year since joining the Cam-Am League, but last year under new president Chris Carminucci, the team lost less money, leading Wolff and the rest of the league to hope that things were getting better for the Surf. In a release announcing the team’s dissolution, managing partner Mark Schuster said that the Surf’s problems stemmed largely from the city’s decision to sell the land on which Bernie Robbins Stadium sits.
“When the city put the “For Sale” sign up on the property in October it significantly changed things,” Schuster said.
The league has quickly reworked its schedule for six teams, and will be able to keep most all of the various teams home dates intact (while adding additional dates), but with the season less than two months away, the schedule will be very unbalanced.
Also in independent baseball news, the United League announced that it will field teams for the 2009 season.
The league had talked about a merger with the Continental League during bankruptcy proceedings, but John Bryant and Byron Pierce, two of the original founders of the United League, bought the league’s assets and announced their plans to reopen the league in 2009.
Five of the six teams in the league in 2008 will return, with a team in Coastal Bend, Texas replacing the Alexandria Aces, which will jump to the Continental League for 2009. With the addition of the Aces, the Continental League will grow to six teams this season, up from four in 2008 although one of the teams will be a travel team.
Comments will be monitored prior to being added to the site. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be rejected. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.
We have chosen to open up commenting to everyone, so comment away! We want to hear from each and every one of you! Leave a comment.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog