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Futures of Terre Haute, Cooperstown teams in play

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Ballpark Digest

Summer-collegiate news: The Cooperstown Hawkeyes (PGCBL) will suspend operations after failing to draw fans to Doubleday Field, while the future of the Terre Haute Rex (Prospect League) is in play.

We know for sure the Hawkeyes won't be back in 2014, as owner Tom Hickey says he will suspend operations while pursuing a new ballpark in the Cooperstown area. The Hawkeyes played at historic Doubleday Field -- no, technically not the birthplace of baseball, but still a darned cute ballpark that can trace its current grandstand to the WPA -- but fans never turned out for games. The ballpark is just down the street from the National Baseball Hall of Game and Museum, but was never able to draw fans from that august institution. In addition, Hickey says the ballpark is inadequate for summer-collegiate ball and the city never followed through with promises of improvements. From the Cooperstown Crier:

In August, Hickey told The Daily Star that he was considering a “serious offer” to move the Hawkeyes to another upstate New York municipality. Hickey went on to say Doubleday Field is inadequate for a PGCBL franchise, citing its lack of lights, clubhouses, showers and office space.

Hickey also said in August that paid parking in Cooperstown and a rent increase to use the field led to a loss of fans and revenue during the 2013 season, when the Hawkeyes went 18-25 to finish last in the five-team East Division.

“Other teams pay for facilities with lighting, concession stands and locker rooms and they pay a third, or less than a third, of what it costs to operate Doubleday Field,” Hickey said. “The village under Mr. Katz is completely disinterested in negotiating anything reasonable.”

Meanwhile, in Terre Haute, the Indiana State Foundation is looking to divest itself of the money-losing Rex and is talking to potential new owners for next season. A sale has not yet taken place, however, so there's always a worry the foundation could simply pull the plug. From the Terre Haute Tribune-Star:

While the final record was positive, 2013 was the second straight season the team was not profitable, Rex general manager Casey DeGroote confirmed Thursday. DeGroote said the team struggled financially in 2013.

“Were we making money? No. We just need to invest more in it. We need more people selling it and beating the door down for businesses to be a part of the Rex. There’s a lot of unique ways to get involved,” DeGroote said....

The Rex reported attendance totals of 29,261 fans to the league, for an average of 975 per game that ranks fourth best in the league. Season tickets sold dropped from 415 in 2012 to 360 in 2013. Extreme heat in 2012 caused the team problems, but the 2013 summer was mild in comparison.

Right now the Prospect League stands at 11 teams.

Image via flickr.com.

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