Richmond, Va.–It is fitting that Pat O'Conner addressed the future concerns of one team's stadium problems here at the Diamond in Richmond, a ballpark that has hosted its fair share of controversy over the years.
The Minor League Baseball president checked out the Eastern League's newest affiliate, the Richmond Flying Squirrels, after serving as the keynote speaker at a luncheon at nearby Virginia State University. His take on the 30-year-old Diamond was as expected: impressed at the product produced by team operators Chuck Domino and Todd Parnell, but still certain that a new facility will be needed in the future. How long that will take, and where exactly it will be located, is far from certain.
"We've got two of our better operators working on one project. One of our better minor league operations is in Richmond," O'Conner said. "They've gotten about as much out of (the Diamond) as you can. In its day, it was state of the art, cutting edge. It's day was 30 years ago."
So Rangers owner-in-default Tom Hicks thought it would be a good idea last night to express his concern over the delay of the team's sale to the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan ownership group.
"I think the lenders feel that [the Greenberg-Ryan] group may not be the highest option," said Hicks, according to BA correspondent Evan Grant. "It's something that has to be worked out between MLB, the lenders and the Greenberg group. When we agreed to this sale in January, we said it was a complicated deal, and it's only getting more complicated. At the end of the day, the lenders have the final say."
Whatever was Hicks' motivation for speaking up, whether it be to pressure the lenders he still owes money or to express frustration that the Greenberg/Ryan group may not have been the highest bidder, MLB clearly was not impressed. Selig came out with a statement a few hours later, essentially telling Hicks to zip it.
"As part of the Texas Rangers sale process, Tom Hicks selected the Chuck Greenberg/Noan Ryan group as the chosen bidder on December 15, 2009 and entered into an exclusive agreement with that group," Selig said in a statement. "Major League Baseball is currently in control of the sale process and will use all efforts to achieve a closing with the team chosen bidder. Any deviation from or interference with the agreed upon sale process by Mr. Hicks or any other party, or any actions in violation of MLB rules or directives will be dealt with appropriately by the Commissioner."
It's safe to say that the Oakland Athletics are happy with their situation in Stockton.
Oakland, which was already inked with the high Class A California League affiliate through the 2012 season, added another two years to their player development contract (PDC) with the Ports yesterday to extend their relationship through the 2014 season.
The two organizations have been linked since the 2005 season, when the Ports unveiled Banner Island Ballpark. The first-rate facility, and its proximity to the Bay Area, are apparently big draws for the Athletics.
"As a Single-A affiliate, Stockton provides us with an ideal situation in regards to a first-class playing facility, a supportive fan base and its close proximity to the Bay Area. We look forward to continuing this very successful association," Athletics general manager Billy Beane said in a statement.
The bi-annual affiliate shuffle won't truly kick into gear until this offseason, when roughly 90 PDCs expire for teams at all levels of the minors. However, the first week of the minor league season has seen two other minor league teams extend long-term agreements with their big league partners.
Opening Day is about more than the game on the field—it is also a time for teams to reconnect with their fan base. This season, nine teams are doing so by unveiling new logos, and we would be remiss not to include our opinions on the new looks. So it's time for our own version of Project Runway, as BA editors Will Lingo and Josh Leventhal review each logo below. Feel free to chime in with your favorites in the comments section. [...] Continue Reading »
Willie Mays, Billie Jean King and Harry Belafonte will be honored when the Civil Rights Game returns to Cincinnati as the Reds host the Cardinals on May 15 for the second year of a two-year agreement with Major League Baseball.
Also to be honored at the Beacon Awards luncheon prior to the game are Rachel Robinson, the widow of Jackie Robinson and founder of The Jackie Robinson Foundation, and renowned recording artist Lena Horne.
The Reds sold out last year's game, which paid tribute to Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali and Bill Cosby. Solomon said that will be tough to match.
"Any of you who happened to be at that particular game (last year) saw a packed house, people moved to cheers, people standing up in unision, learning, experiencing and be very proud of this great game of baseball," executive vice president of baseball operations Jimmie Lee Solomon said at a press conference this morning at Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark. "Commissioner (Bud) Selig and I stood side by side and said it will be hard to match this great game. Commissioner Selig is a visionary, and I asked him, 'Do you have any suggestions.' He said, 'That's your job.' "
The Connecticut Defenders accomplished something it had not done since 2001 before bolting town this offseason: It attracted over 200,000 fans in each of its final two seasons at Dodd Stadium.
The Double-A Eastern League affiliate has since moved on to Richmond, Va., adopted the Flying Squirrels moniker and will look to overcome an aging ballpark in the circuit's biggest market. But before leaving the Northeast, the Defenders proved that fans will come out to the ballpark — particularly in the summer months. That's a feat Dodd Stadium's new tenants, the short-season Connecticut Tigers, hope to prove was no fluke when the New York-Penn League schedule begins in late June.
The NYPL and Minor League Baseball recently approved the Oneonta Tigers' relocation to Norwich, and on last Thursday the newly named Connecticut Tigers held its press conference at its new home. The
"We have about eight months worth of work to do in two-and-a-half months," said Connecticut general manager Andrew Weber, who has guided the
Dodd Stadium is no baseball mecca. It is located on the top of a hill in an industrial area that hardly lures fans. But the Defenders did take baby steps to respectability in its final two seasons, drawing 202,004 fans in 2008 and 203,005 in 2009 — good for second to last and last, respectively, in the EL. But it was an improvement, and a look behind the numbers reveals that the
I'm on the road in D.C. with my two sons snoring in the sofabed beside me, so I thought this would be a fine opportunity to post some early morning news from around baseball as Opening Day approaches.
* Minor League Baseball sought a local ownership group in Richmond when its first attempt to return baseball to the city failed last summer. Though new team owner Lou Dibella calls New York City home, he did find a local investor in Brian Callaghan, who he recently introduced at the refurbished Diamond.
* Ballpark renovations for new Bradenton affiliate are put on hold after expected federal funds don't come through. The projects, which included a tiki bar, parking and a children's play area, will now be spread out over several years instead of being completed in a single $7 million project.
* Gluten-free options and vegetarian offerings are among the new fare you can expect to find at ballparks around the country this season.
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