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You are here: Major League News Archives: Feb. 5-11, 2007

Archives: Feb. 5-11, 2007

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Archives: Feb. 5-11, 2007
Hennepin County, Twins say they'll look for a new ballpark site
Posted Feb. 9, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
In a move that's been rumored for the last few days, Hennepin County officials say they'll look at alternative sites for a new Twins ballpark, as the county and the owners of a key piece of land at the downtown Minneapolis site continue to be at loggerheads over the property's value. When the Minnesota Legislature was debating the idea of a new ballpark, the leaders of the Land Partners III group controlling the land -- Rich Pogin and Bruce Lambrecht -- assured legislators they wouldn't have any problems coming to a sales agreement with the county. At that time, however, their economic plan was to tell the land to the county and then retain development rights to the area surrounding the ballpark. Now, with the downtown condo market slowing down and development partner Hines saying they don't foresee any immediate development in the area, the economic model used by Land Partners III calls for them to make as much money on the Twins project as possible because returns from associated development may not come quickly. One idea that seems to be gaining some steam: locating the new ballpark near the Metrodome. Ironically, the eastern part of downtown Minneapolis is trendy these days -- the Metrodome never did much to stimulate the area, but the new Guthrie Theater, some popular restaurants and a slew of condo projects near the waterfront have instilled a new sense of life to the area. Some large chunks of land are expected to be available once the sale of the Minneapolis Star Tribune is finalized, and there's plenty of open sites between the Metrodome and the riverfront. (In fact, there may be some attractive sites right on the riverfront.) Potential competition for a suitable site: the Minnesota Vikings, who already have expressed a preference for a new stadium in the area. Is all of this political? Sure. Hennepin County officials want to remind the landowners who is driving this train. But both sides are capable of playing hardball, and what's lost in all these discussions is the status of Pogin and Lambrecht as longtime conservative activists -- a status that many in the DFL-controlled Minnesota Legislature remember all too clearly, so getting state approval for a switch may not be as difficult as some believe. More from the Star Tribune and Sid Hartman.

 

Sounds delay ballpark opening until 2009
Posted Feb. 9, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
The Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will be unable to open their proposed downtown ballpark until April 2009 -- a year later than the planned April 2008 completion date -- and the ballpark's cost may be higher than the $43 million originally estimated, team officials confirmed Thursday. The news comes on the heels of the Metro Council’s decision in December to give the Sounds and Baltimore developer Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse a four-and-a-half month extension to complete financing for the stadium, moving an original, contracted deadline from Dec. 31 to April 15 this year.

Citi Field construction on budget, on time
Posted Feb. 9, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Jeff Wilpon said the construction progress at Citi Field is on time and on budget, and that the New York Mets' new ballpark is set to open in 2009. "I am very pleased with how things are progressing," the Mets' chief operating officer said yesterday. "We are on schedule. The winter has been pretty good to us, so we might actually be ahead of schedule." Wilpon said the project, which will cost $800 million, is currently within 1 percent of its budget. Construction began in right field and will move clockwise. Already the framework for a stair tower has been built, and cement supports for the installation of several foundation beams have been poured. Wilpon said by Opening Day the steel girders for the first level will be up, and by June the exterior facing on the first level will be raised. You'll be able to see things well from Shea Stadium. More from the New York Times and Newsday.

Ripken out of running in Harrisburg; Ivy Walls still under consideration
Posted Feb. 9, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
The city of Harrisburg has decided to continue negotiations to sell the Harrisburg Senators (Class AA; Eastern League) with two groups, we've learned; Ivy Walls Management is reportedly one of the two firms, but apparently the bid from Ripken Baseball did not make the cut. Only four entities bid for the Senators, far fewer than the 20 or so suitors the Harrisburg mayor had promised, and there's still a sense from the city and local officials we talk with that the team may not end up being sold after all. We believe the other group whose bid is still under consideration is an existing minor-league operator with teams at the Class AA and Class A levels. Ivy Walls Management owns the Omaha Royals (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and the Lexington Legends (Low Class A; Sally League). 

A's tout Cisco Field in ticket mailer
Posted Feb. 9, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
By spending nearly $50,000 during the next four years, you too can have the best seats at Cisco Field. That's the deal the Oakland A's are offering prospective season ticket holders in a flier mailed to fans this week. The mailer offers "seating priority" for a high-end package of four "MVP Infield" seats that top out at an annual price of $12,489. Less expensive season ticket packages also will give fans ticket access to Cisco Field, which may open as soon as 2011. However, exact seating requests are not guaranteed, the flier's fine print reads. In short, fans who purchase season tickets for games at Oakland's McAfee Coliseum and continue to renew their season tickets until the proposed Fremont ballpark opens will be given first priority, A's spokesman Jim Young said.

Appalachian League to operate with nine teams in 2007
Posted Feb. 9, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
The rookie Appalachian League will operate with nine teams in 2007 as a five-month search to replace the Pulaski Blue Jays fell short. The opening in Pulaski was created with the departure of the Toronto Blue Jays as that city's major league affiliate with the conclusion of the 2006 Appalachian League season. Numerous efforts to find either a new major league affiliate for Pulaski or replace the Blue Jays with some other sort of team acceptable to league directors have gone unrewarded. "Without a doubt, this has been a very unfortunate sequence of events that has left Pulaski without a team for the upcoming season. Since they returned to the league in 1997, they have made over $1.6 million worth of improvements to their ballpark and have met every requirement that has been set before them. Everyone associated with our league has spent countless hours trying to find a solution for this dilemma," said league president Lee Landers in making the announcement. He added that it is always better for the league to operate with an even number of teams and that he would remain focused on the hope of finding a major-league partner for Pulaski for the 2008 season.

Ballpark Village developer gets its way: It's the firm's call on condos
Posted Feb. 9, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
The Ballpark Village proposal that St. Louis's Board of Aldermen is poised to approve today gives the developer, Baltimore-based Cordish Co., exactly what it wanted early on: the ability to back out of building condos. The reworked plan, made public Wednesday, does not require Cordish to build 250 residential units that were originally part of the first phase. Other aspects in the revised proposal, which aldermen have been given less than three days to digest, would allow Cordish to shrink the amount of retail space in the entertainment district. There are also slight changes to sections of the deal on everything from signs to security, as well as components that help to protect the city, too. Ballpark Village is a mixed-use development from the St. Louis Cardinals and Cordish on the former Busch Stadium site, next to the new Busch Stadium.

Prim: I'll run figures in offer
Posted Feb. 9, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
The lead developer of a proposed ballpark complex in downtown Winston-Salem said yesterday that he is not sure if he will accept a tax-incentive proposal offered by Forsyth County. Billy Prim, a co-owner of the Winston-Salem Warthogs (High Class A; Carolina League), said he received the county's latest economic-incentive offer and is working with financial models to see if the deal makes financial sense. Prim spoke after leaving a closed-door meeting yesterday afternoon with county commissioners to discuss the county's incentives offer. He said he would likely comment on the offer next week. The county has offered incentives worth half of the property-tax revenue that would be generated by the proposed ballpark complex. At that rate, the county could pay as much as $11.3 million over 25 years if the entire $189 million development is built; Prim had asked for $14 million. The Warthogs currently play at Ernie Shore Field.

Selig is cleaning up his image
Posted Feb. 9, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
As MLB prepares for the 2007 season, Bud Selig is making the rounds and touting his accomplishments over the last few years. The premise here is that he's getting lots of credit for improvements in baseball and really not to blame for things like steroid abuse. There's a germ of truth to it -- the players' association does share in culpability when it comes to steroid abuse in baseball -- but the fact remains baseball seems to be in pretty good financial shape. We're dubious whether Selig actually had much to do with it -- as you survey the sports world, you realize sports of all sorts, ranging from minor-league baseball to MLS soccer, is is pretty good shape -- as baseball is just one part of societal trends that include an emphasis on sports as a social activity.

Will $400M get Xanadu on track?
Posted Feb. 9, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
The Meadowlands Xanadu entertainment and retail project is being reenergized to the tune of at least $400 million in construction contracts this year, developer Colony Capital Investments announced Thursday. But CCI Vice President Dan Haggarty -- speaking during a one-hour tour of Colony's midtown Manhattan leasing office -- could not offer specifics on other possible Xanadu components, such as a minor league baseball park for the Bergen Cliff Hawks (independent; Atlantic League), a state Hall of Fame or a Bergen Community College campus. That got a rise out of Cliff Hawks owner Kalafer, who is suing Mills over what he said are broken promises for a 6,500-seat park at the Continental Arena site, who said he has yet to have "one meaningful conversation" with Colony. Other Meadowlands officials say they'll continue to lobby for the ballpark, but without a written commitment, they may not have much leverage.

Lakeland is hot destination
Posted Feb. 9, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
You don't think there was a little pent-up passion for the Detroit Tigers the last decade or so? Then look at what's happening in Lakeland, the spring home of the Tigers. Finding a last-minute place to stay in Lakeland, Fla., will be hit or miss for Tigers fans bound for spring training without reservations. The advice: call hotels directly and don't rely on the Internet to determine if a hotel is sold out or not.

Pewaukee looks at baseball plan
Posted Feb. 9, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
There was early positive reaction to a proposal for a new ballpark in Pewaukee (a Milwaukee suburb) to house a summer-collegiate Northwoods League team. Chad Bauer, Lake Country Baseball Group president, said he is looking for a private-public partnership with the city. He wants the city to approve using about 6 acres of city park land for the ballpark, which would be built by private investors. The Tourism Committee on Thursday referred the proposal to the Joint Park and Recreation Board, which is to discuss it at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The ballpark could be built on a portion of the 60 acres the city owns at Highway 74 and Lindsay Road.

Newberry College to play homes games at Greenville Municipal Stadium
Posted Feb. 9, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
The Newberry College baseball team will play all of their homes games this season in Greenville, S.C. at Greenville Municipal Stadium, the former home of the Greenville Braves (Class AA; Southern League) and the Greenville Bombers (Low Class A; Sally League). In addition to the 25 home games that will be played at Municipal Stadium, the facility will also be the host site of the 2007 South Atlantic Conference Baseball Tournament while Newberry will be the host school.

Harry Caray's to help break the 1908 Curse of the Cubs
Posted Feb. 9, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
We certainly are near the beginning of the baseball season if we have some folks in Chicago do something or another to break the Curse of the Cubs. At Harry Caray's, a Feb. 15 dinner will be held to break the curse, which dates back to 1908. The night after the big World Series win in 1908, Broadway legend George Cohan hosted a celebratory dinner at Rector's Restaurant for the victorious players. Conspicuously absent from the guest list was Cubs President Charles W. Murphy. Murphy was met with considerable criticism for his handling of World Series tickets and poor seat availability for the fans and subsequently was not invited to the dinner. Although Murphy bore no relation to the originator of Murphy's Law (anything that can go wrong will go wrong), the adage has certainly applied to the luckless Cubs ever since 1908. Consider that the goat denied access to Wrigley Field in 1945 was named Murphy, the Mets' announcer calling the game when a black cat on the field reversed the Cubs' 1969 dominant lead was Bob Murphy; and the ballpark in which the Cubs blew their near certain trip to the 1984 World Series was Jack Murphy Stadium. On Feb. 15 Harry Caray's will hold a reenactment of the 1908 dinner, only this time Murphy will be there. Chicagoans with each of the following surnames will be invited: Cohan, Chance, Tinker, Steinfeldt, Howard, Sheckard, Evers, Moran, Williams and Murphy. In addition, all guests with Model T's, the car which debuted in 1908, will receive free valet parking.

Ballpark Notes
Posted Feb. 9, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Bret Lasky returns as the voice of the Fayetteville SwampDogs (summer collegiate; Coastal Plain League) for his second season at J.P. Riddle Stadium. Lasky will again deliver the play-by-play of all 28 home games on the CPL webpass. New for the upcoming season, Lasky will deliver the play-by-play for all road games. The road games can be heard on the local ESPN Radio affiliate in Fayetteville, WCIE 1450. Lasky, a graduating senior at the University of Maryland, called every pitch of every SwampDogs game at J.P. Riddle Stadium last season, as well as the entire Pettit Cup tournament. He is the Sports Director of WMUC Radio at the University of Maryland. As the lead play-by-play voice for Terrapin football, basketball and baseball, he has called nearly 300 games during his career at Maryland. His highlights include calling the 2006 National Championship women’s basketball game and the 2007 Champs Sports Bowl....The St. Paul Saints (independent; American Association) have hired Sean Aronson as media relations director and play-by-play announcer, the club announced today. Aronson will serve as the club’s main contact for local and national media and provide the play-by-play call for all Saints radio broadcasts. A six-year veteran behind the microphone, Aronson spent the last four seasons with the Fort Myers Miracle (High Class A; Florida State League) as director of broadcasting/media relations. He called all 140 games for the Miracle from 2003-06 along with select Twins spring training games during the last two seasons on the local ESPN affiliate. Like the Saints, the Miracle is owned and operated by the Goldklang Group, a sports entertainment consulting and management firm....The Battle Creek Bombers (summer collegiate; Northwoods League) announced the hiring of Jon Young as the Assistant General Manager for the 2007 season.  Young will assist in the team’s marketing, sales and promotions in its inaugural season in addition to overseeing game day events and community relations.  Young brings over six years of sports marketing experience to the Bombers. He began his career in 1998 as an intern with the Chicago Wolves hockey team, then a member of the International Hockey League. Young has previously worked with three expansion teams in his career, most recently starting the business operations for the Dupage Dragons (summer collegiate; Central Illinois Collegiate League).

Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium listed among America's architectural gems
Posted Feb. 8, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Wrigley Field was listed #31 in a vote of America's favorite structures, in a poll conducted by the American Institute of Architects. Also listed was Yankee Stadium at #84, though the presumption in the poll is that the current Yankee Stadium is the same as the original 1923 building -- and it's not. Other ballparks on the list: AT&T Park (#104), Fenway Park (#113), Oriole Park at Camden Yards (#122), the Astrodome (#134) and Safeco Field (#135). You can view the full list here, but be patient: the AIA chintzed out when it came to a working Website, so performance is breathtakingly slow. More from Medill News Service.

County's ballpark offer in
Posted Feb. 8, 2007 (feedback) (submit story) (discuss)
Forsyth County commissioners could give developers of a proposed ballpark complex in Winston-Salem up to $11.3 million in incentives, about $3 million less than the developer had asked for, county officials said yesterday. Commissioner Walter Marshall said that the county board of commissioners has offered the developers incentives worth half of the property-tax revenue that would be generated by the proposed stadium complex. At that rate, the county could pay up to $11.3 million over 25 years if the entire $189 million development is built, which includes a new ballpark for the Winston-Salem Warthogs (High Class A; Carolina League), stores, offices and residences. The Warthogs currently play at Ernie Shore Field.

Rays seem ready to dump Devil
Posted Feb. 8, 2007 (