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Worcester aims for 2014 ballpark deal

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Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field

There will be no pro ball at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field in 2013, as local officials reject overtures from the independent Can-Am League to return to Worcester in 2013.

The reality, says City Manager Michael V. O’Brien, is that it's too late for the league -- or any other league, for that matter -- to basically begin from scratch to play in 2013; teams have already been selling the 2013 season since the last day of the 2012 season. From the Worcester Telegram:

“A league, a new team and a new ownership group,” O’Brien said, “would have all had to be selected by now, lease and all agreements set, their front office would already have to be in operation, the team’s 2013 season established, tickets printed, and their sales force already on the streets for season 2013. That kind of pressure and pace does not produce diamonds.

“It would have left stones unturned and many key details missed which could create the types of structural flaws within the new team that could very well lead to failure. Not an option. Why establish a process with that high level of risk? A clean break and rock-solid due diligence and decisions by our partnership sets the proper field for 2014.”

There are three potential leagues in play for Worcester: the Can-Am League, a feeder league associated with the independent Atlantic League, and the summer-collegiate Futures Collegiate Baseball League. Right now the Can-Am League is at five teams and will play an interconnected slate with the American Association to address scheduling issues; bringing back Worcester would make things easier for league officials, but there's the nasty isse of some $300,000 in debt associated with the previous Can-Am League team. The Atlantic League has been very successful as of late, and launching a feeder league in smaller communities is a stated goal for 2014. This league could start with three teams -- Worcester, Atlantic City and Sussex County -- and maybe add Bridgeport to the mix. The Futures Collegiate Baseball League isn't the first choice of city officials, who prefer a pro circuit, but financially it could be a contender.

Image by Doug Kerr, via flickr.com.

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