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BerkshireFan
05-05-2004, 08:39 PM
Yet another indy team folds in the face of affiliated competition aided and abetted by local politicians. Similar to what happened to the Albany Diamond Dogs of the NeL, Pennsylvania pols earmarked $12 mil for a ballpark in the Lehigh Valley region. The catch was that the money could only be used for an affiliated team.

The Ams owner only invested $3.5 million of his own money to turn a softball field into a professional baseball facility and keep the team afloat for seven years, three of which they managed to draw 100,000+. In return for the state money the Ams owner offered to match another $12 million in private funds to bring the total to $24 million, but the state would rather give the money to two affiliated owners who openly state that $12 mil isn't enough and they won't kick in for more.

So rather than go down the same road the Diamond Dogs did, the Ams are folding before any more money is lost. Unfortunately, and unfairly, the other seven NeL owners must now pony up for a road team a mere three weeks before the start of the season.

It's a shame to see the Northeast League lose a metro area with 600,000 people. Why they didn't do more to help the Ams owner I don't know.

-Marc

BeloitSnapper
05-06-2004, 08:52 AM
Yet another indy team folds in the face of affiliated competition aided and abetted by local politicians. Similar to what happened to the Albany Diamond Dogs of the NeL, Pennsylvania pols earmarked $12 mil for a ballpark in the Lehigh Valley region. The catch was that the money could only be used for an affiliated team.

The Ams owner only invested $3.5 million of his own money to turn a softball field into a professional baseball facility and keep the team afloat for seven years, three of which they managed to draw 100,000+. In return for the state money the Ams owner offered to match another $12 million in private funds to bring the total to $24 million, but the state would rather give the money to two affiliated owners who openly state that $12 mil isn't enough and they won't kick in for more.

So rather than go down the same road the Diamond Dogs did, the Ams are folding before any more money is lost. Unfortunately, and unfairly, the other seven NeL owners must now pony up for a road team a mere three weeks before the start of the season.

It's a shame to see the Northeast League lose a metro area with 600,000 people. Why they didn't do more to help the Ams owner I don't know.

-Marc

Marc, there's some inaccuracies here. Acutally the local politicians (the Allentown mayor especially) were pulling for a new ballpark for the NeL club and refused to deal with the affiliated group. This likely had something to do with the Allentown owner being a political supporter but it was what happened.

In addition, the state said it has the money available and never said it would only provide the money for an affiliated team. I think there were three competing groups according to the news stories, the NeL group in Allentown (now out), the affiliated group (looking at a different site in Allentown and one somewhere else, maybe Bethlehem), and a third group that wants to build a stadium wherever those rusting steel girders are for an Atlantic League team. The affiliated and Atlantic League groups are still seeking the state funding, and I think the state consultant is supposed to make a recommendation in the next month.

You can't blame the Allentown owner for not wanting to throw away 500K per year anymore. I think it was pretty big of him to step aside and say he would support affiliated baseball in the area. Whether that actually happens who knows, but if the local politicians and the prospective owners now work together I've got to think that Allentown is an attractive candidate for the state money.

What happened with the Albany Diamond Dogs? I'm not familiar with the situation. Is Bouton going to renovate Waconah Park or what? An NeL team there would make sense now that one is available. Have you been to any games in Troy? It's supposed to be pretty nice.

Mr. Snapper

BerkshireFan
05-06-2004, 07:13 PM
[b]
Marc, there's some inaccuracies here. Acutally the local politicians (the Allentown mayor especially) were pulling for a new ballpark for the NeL club and refused to deal with the affiliated group. This likely had something to do with the Allentown owner being a political supporter but it was what happened.

In addition, the state said it has the money available and never said it would only provide the money for an affiliated team.

It's true that Afflerbach was loyal to Karoly, but it was the state calling the shots as to who gets the money, not the city. One State Rep. (Rooney, I believe) was adamant the money go to an affiliated team, and spokespeople for Gov. Rendell went on record saying the governor wanted the money to go to an affilliated team as well.

[b]You can't blame the Allentown owner for not wanting to throw away 500K per year anymore.

I don't blame him at all. The only thing he did wrong was not let the other NeL owners know he had a Plan B that involved the Ams potentially not playing. The league is in a tight spot right now.

As for Allentown, they just lost a team that was superior in quality than any short season single-A team they can land.

[b]What happened with the Albany Diamond Dogs? I'm not familiar with the situation. Is Bouton going to renovate Waconah Park or what? An NeL team there would make sense now that one is available. Have you been to any games in Troy? It's supposed to be pretty nice.

Mr. Snapper

Several things went wrong in Albany, but probably the one obstacle they couldn't overcome was the new NY-Penn team with the publicly funded stadium several miles away in Troy. The state senate president (Bruno) figured the Albany area needed a team and a stadium, out and out ignoring the fact that they already had both in Colonie (admittedly Heritage Park isn't exactly state of the art). Once again, most pols and media types mistake indy ball for amateur baseball. They are clueless.

The Bouton Group, now know as Waconah Park Inc., will be investing $1.5 million into Wahconah between now and the '05 season. They're shopping around for either an NeL team or a team in the proposed Atlantic short season feeder league. Once they've acquired a team they'll be selling 51% of the team to Pittsfield and Berkshire County residents to insure the team can't be moved. At least not without extreme difficulty.

As for the stadium in Troy, no thanks. That's Pittsfield's old NY-Penn team playing there. Screw 'em. Besides, if I wanted to go see a quality baseball game in Albany, I'd go see the Diamond Dogs. Unfortunately that's not possible anymore.

-Marc