Rockies-Tourists Extend Agreement for Four More Years
The Colorado Rockies announced today that the reigning National League champions have agreed to a new four-year Player Development Contract with the Asheville Tourists, of the South Atlantic League. The new working agreement will begin at the start of the 2009 season and will continue through the 2012 campaign.
The formal signing of the working agreement will take place in the Tourists clubhouse on Tuesday afternoon, followed by an on-field announcement to the fans at McCormick Field during the game with the Kannapolis Intimidators. Among those present will be Rockies vice chairmen Charles Montfort and Rockies president Keli McGregor, Colorado's director of player development Marc Gustafson, and Alan Ostfield, chief operating officer for Palace Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Tourists.
"The relationship has been great for 15 seasons already. The Rockies are a terrific, first-class organization and we are proud to be their partners," said Ostfield. "Extending this partnership for four more years is a great thing for the Rockies, the Tourists and the City of Asheville."
Asheville has been the only low Class A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies since the expansion franchise began playing in 1993. The Tourists joined the Rockies' farm system a year later, in 1994. Among the six teams in the Colorado minor league organization, only Triple-A Colorado Springs (1993) has a longer affiliation with the major league club.
"The Tourists offer a first-class operation in every facet," Gustafson said. "We've been extremely pleased with the environment our players and coaches are provided with in Asheville, and we looked forward to continuing our strong commitment and relationship for years to come."
At 15 years, the Asheville-Colorado partnership represents the longest current agreement between a major league team and a member of the South Atlantic League. The present-day relationship also is the longest stretch in Asheville baseball history. The Tourists' first Player Development Contract was signed with the St. Louis Cardinals and legendary general manager Branch Rickey in 1935, which is considered to be the official beginning of organized farm systems in major league annals.
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