December 1, 2008 - Eastern League (EL) - Altoona Curve
ALTOONA- Curve Baseball LP President & Managing Partner Chuck Greenberg today announced that his group has reached an agreement to sell the Altoona Curve franchise to the family of Robert F. Lozinak. The sale of the club is pending approval from the Eastern League and Minor League Baseball, and review by the Baseball Office of the Commissioner.
The Lozinak family was the original owner of the Curve franchise, together with the late Tate DeWeese, when the club began play in 1999. The Lozinaks owned the team through the 2001 season before reaching an agreement to sell the franchise to the group led by Greenberg in October 2001.
Curve Baseball LP will maintain its ownership of the Short-Season Class-A New York-Penn League's State College Spikes.
"Today's announcement marks a bittersweet day for our ownership group and management team because we have thoroughly enjoyed all of the hard work of building the Altoona Curve into one of the most innovative and well-respected franchises in the country, while enhancing the wonderful fan experience here at beautiful Blair County Ballpark," said Greenberg. "We have forged so many personal bonds and friendships that we know will last forever. Yet while it is difficult to let go of this wonderful franchise, we are thrilled to be returning the Curve to Bob Lozinak, who had never intended to part with it in the first place."
Greenberg added, "We were not actively looking to sell the franchise, and truthfully, the only person we would have considered an offer from was Bob Lozinak. To the legions of Altoona Curve fans, who are the true foundation for this franchise's extraordinary success and accomplishments, this announcement is a wonderful development because ownership of the team is returning to the man who, more than a decade ago, had the vision and commitment to bring Minor League Baseball to his hometown."
Greenberg also announced today the formation of his new company, Greenberg Sports Group (GSG), which will provide management, consulting and marketing services to the sports industry across the country. GSG will manage the overall operations of both the State College Spikes and Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach (SC) Pelicans. As part of the sale of the Curve to the Lozinak family, GSG will provide consulting services to the Curve for a period of three years following the sale.
Curve General Manager Todd Parnell will head the management team at Greenberg Sports Group, which will include State College Spikes General Manager Rick Janac. Curve Associate General Manager Jeff Garner and Chief Financial Officer John Donley will each relinquish their positions to join Greenberg Sports Group once the sale receives all requisite baseball approvals.
"The bond between the Curve franchise and the residents of Altoona and Central Pennsylvania is a special one and I'm proud to have been a part of it for the past seven years and to have made so many special friendships here," said Parnell. "What our ownership group and management team has accomplished over the past seven seasons is remarkable and can't be duplicated by many other teams and fan bases across the country. We all wish nothing but the best to the Lozinaks in building upon the Curve's legacy, which they played such a central role in establishing."
"This is certainly a great opportunity to be back in baseball and what better place than Altoona, our original Field of Dreams," said Bob Lozinak. "We are very appreciative of the outstanding accomplishments of Chuck and his group and look forward to providing great family entertainment to the best fans in Minor League Baseball."
David Lozinak will take over as the Curve's Chief Operating Officer once the agreement is formally approved. An announcement on a new General Manager will be made at a later date.
"Today is a bittersweet day because under the leadership of Chuck Greenberg and Todd Parnell, the Altoona Curve has become one of the model franchises not only in the Eastern League, but in all of Minor League Baseball and their influence on the other 11 clubs in this league will be greatly missed," said Eastern League President Joe McEacharn. "On the other hand, it's great to know that the Curve franchise is being returned to the ownership of Bob Lozinak, whose extraordinary vision and determination helped bring professional baseball to Altoona in the first place."
Curve Baseball LP assumed ownership of the club in April 2002 and, led by Greenberg and Parnell, took the franchise to new heights in its seven seasons. The group came to Altoona with plenty of star power, counting Pittsburgh sports legends Jerome Bettis and Mario Lemieux and well-known local businessmen Donald Devorris and Steven Sheetz among its group of investors. Curve Baseball LP set numerous club attendance and sales records, continually re-invested private money into capital improvement projects at Blair County Ballpark, and helped the franchise gain national stature as one of the most creative and innovative teams in professional sports.
Just six months after his ownership group began operating the franchise, Greenberg announced in October 2002 the first of two major capital improvement projects, which would dramatically enhance the fan experience at Blair County Ballpark. The first project, which cost over $1 million and was funded entirely by Greenberg's ownership group, yielded the popular Third Base Picnic Pavilion, Party Deck and Left-Field Bleacher areas. Prior to the 2006 campaign, the club announced another million dollar addition to Blair County Ballpark paid for by the ownership group -- a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 1,000 square foot videoboard, which immediately became one of the largest in Minor League Baseball.
Along with the many physical additions to the ballpark, Curve Baseball LP also re-invested in its front office staff, nearly doubling the number of full-time employees in just its first two seasons. Most positively impacted was the team's ticket sales staff, which allowed the club to more effectively reach out to season ticket holders and to proactively cultivate the fan base in areas such as Bedford, Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson and Westmoreland Counties.
The club's marketing and promotional efforts also reached new heights under the group's watch. "Everybody's Hometown Team" was adopted in 2003 as the Curve's permanent marketing slogan, symbolizing the team's popularity in communities within a 70-mile radius of Altoona. Promotionally, the Curve quickly became nationally known for such unique ideas as "Awful Night", "Irish Pat's Used Car Giveaway Night", and the innovative "Retro Celebrity Series", which brought past television stars such as Dawn Wells, Sherman Hemsley, Jamie Farr, Christopher Knight, Erik Estrada and others to Blair County Ballpark to meet and greet Curve fans. Curve Baseball LP was recognized for its stellar promotional effort by winning Minor League Baseball's prestigious Larry MacPhail Promotional Trophy following the 2004 season.
Curve Baseball LP added more significant awards in 2006, highlighted by the franchise winning the highest honor bestowed annually upon a minor league team, the John H. Johnson President's Trophy, in 2006. Also that year, the team won Baseball America's Bob Freitas Award as the top Double-A franchise, making the eight-year-old Curve one of the youngest franchises in Minor League Baseball history to win the MacPhail, Johnson and Freitas awards. The accolades continued to pour in late in 2006, as the Sports Turf Manager's Association named Blair County Ballpark its "Professional Baseball Field of the Year". Individually, Parnell was recognized by the Eastern League as its 2004 Executive of the Year and Greenberg, who also serves as President & Managing Partner of the nearby State College Spikes and Myrtle Beach (SC) Pelicans, was voted onto the Minor League Baseball Board of Trustees in 2007.
The signature event of Curve Baseball LP's tenure came on July 12, 2006, when the franchise hosted the successful UPMC Health Plan Eastern League All-Star Game before a Blair County Ballpark-record 9,308 fans. Many notable dignitaries made ballpark appearances throughout the group's seven-year run, including former President Jimmy Carter, Vice President Dick Cheney, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and former PA Governor and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge.
The relationship between the Curve and their parent club, the Pittsburgh Pirates, also strengthened during the group's ownership tenure. A pair of four-year Player Development Contracts were signed, the second of which was announced in March 2006, and is currently in effect through the 2010 season.
The Curve will open their 11th Eastern League season on April 8 at Erie before hosting the SeaWolves for the 2009 Home Opener on Thursday, April 16th at Blair County Ballpark.