Muckdogs Staying, Toros Leaving

Triple-A Rochester made official its plan to continue operating the beleaguered short-season Batavia Muckdogs in the 2011 season.

This will be Rochester's fourth season in charge of its neighbor ballclub after the Red Wings rescued Batavia from bankruptcy following the 2007 season. Rochester had hoped that it could turn the Muckdogs, one of Minor League Baseball's top licensing clubs, into a success at the gate, but instead has seen attendance drop over the past three seasons while taking a financial hit. 

Rochester CEO Naomi Silver had earlier indicated that Rochester was not planning on renewing its agreement with Batavia but recently changed course and decided to stick with the team while it looks for a new buyer.

The Red Wings faced an Oct. 31 deadline on pulling out of its contract with Batavia before the deal automatically renewed. Rochester likely can recoup its losses operating Batavia after the team is sold–as part of the original agreement, Rochester receives 5 percent of the proceeds from the sale.

"We would not want to walk away from the operation, leaving the team at risk of not being able to support itself while awaiting a sale," Silver said in a press release. Our staying will permit the (Genesee County Baseball Club) board the opportunity to seek out a sale of the Muckdogs on terms which will be most beneficial to the Batavia community."

Meanwhile, Tucson will not be a two-team town next season. That's because the independent Toros of the Golden Baseball League are going "on hiatus" to make way for the expected temporary arrival of the Triple-A Portland Beavers.

Toros owner Jay Zucker said the team could not compete with a Triple-A club in town. "Over the past two seasons, the Toros lost more than $1 million in operational monies. That was when we were the only game in town," Zucker said at a press conference yesterday. "To have two teams going for the same market would cause us further financial losses and much confusion for the community, so we have decided to respectfully modify our agenda and focus on baseball-related events and community events."

Zucker also said he will not be operating the Beavers next season. The Toros have spent the past two seasons at Hi-Corbett Field, but Zucker says that Moorad has decided to field the team across town at Tucson Electric Park.

"It's extremely (disappointing)," Zucker said at the press conference. "I believed we could have provided the Beavers a good home under the name of the Toros, and the concept would have been mutually beneficial for their organization, the community and the Toros organization. However, for their reasons, they've elected to play at TEP. With that, we lost the opportunity of hosting their team."

The Beavers, left without a home for 2011 after its ballpark underwent conversion into a soccer-only facility after the 2010 season, are planning to relocate to Tucson while it seeks a permanent location. An ownership group headed by Padres owner Jeff Moorad is in the process of purchasing the team and is negotiating a ballpark deal with officials from the San Diego suburb of Escondido. The city council is expected to vote on a $50 million ballpark proposal on Nov. 30.