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Captain59

AAA Baseball

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Why did Hartford fail to bring a AAA baseball team to the city a few years ago? Did it have to do with the New Britain Rock Cats, or were there other factors? Could it happen some day?

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I am not sure but if there were to be AAA baseball I personally would to see the visitors/fans more involved with the city. Right now the Rock Cats stadium does nothing for downtown New Britan and the CT Defenders (Norwich Navigators) stadium does nothing for downtown Norwich. The stadium in Norwich is in the middle of an industrial park near the Franklin town line that is about 10 minutes from downtown

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A few of this issues several years back were that getting a stadium financed was a large issue. Maybe it is time for another stab at it. When baseball was talked about, several ideas were mentioned....Independant league was one, as was AAA, and even a stab at AA.

One problem is William Dowling who is the president of the Rock Cats and a well connected individual in the baseball community. He worked for George Steinbrenner at one time. A Triple A team in Hartford would clearly draw on the demand for AA tickets in New Britain, and I am sure some noise would be made. Baseball is an easier sell than even hockey is in this area.

Not to get too far off topic, but while we are talking about baseball, has anyone heard of the NECBL and the Manchester Silkworms? I am on the Board of Directors and business operations staff (all volunteer) for the team, and it is really high quality baseball. It is a summer wooden bat collegiate league that is about a half step away from the Cape Cod league. No one is getting ripped off at the gate with a $4 ticket for adults and kids 12 and under being free. I know most have not heard of us, but I wonder if anyone here has.

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Yep, I've heard of the Silkworms. Is that you in charge of music I see? I wish I thought about going to some games before the season concluded. I love the Cape Cod League. My parents have a house in Chatham and those people go crazy over their A's.

AAA ball would be great in Hartford. Can you imagine a downtown stadium? I saw some possible renderings a few years back and they were sweet. That would be wild. I think it could be done if Dowling would back off. Wasn't it him who got into a huff when the Navigators decided to use "Connecticut" with their new name? The world doesn't revolve around the Rock Cats! (Sorry...I have some issues about them through the years.)

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Yep, I've heard of the Silkworms. Is that you in charge of music I see? I wish I thought about going to some games before the season concluded. I love the Cape Cod League. My parents have a house in Chatham and those people go crazy over their A's.

AAA ball would be great in Hartford. Can you imagine a downtown stadium? I saw some possible renderings a few years back and they were sweet. That would be wild. I think it could be done if Dowling would back off. Wasn't it him who got into a huff when the Navigators decided to use "Connecticut" with their new name? The world doesn't revolve around the Rock Cats! (Sorry...I have some issues about them through the years.)

Ha....yes that is me...from about 4 years ago when I was still in college. As most people do in small non-profit volunteer organizations I wear many hats...everything from marketing to game operations to whatever else needs to be done.

Dowling has done a very good job of protecting his golden goose. Really what the Rock Cats do is cater do the "safe" suburban folks who don't want to venture into the city. I think as the city continues to turn the corner more people are going to have an interest in going to the city to take in a ballgame. I do wonder how economically viable two professional baseball teams less that 20 minutes away from eachother would fare.

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Ha....yes that is me...from about 4 years ago when I was still in college. As most people do in small non-profit volunteer organizations I wear many hats...everything from marketing to game operations to whatever else needs to be done.

Dowling has done a very good job of protecting his golden goose. Really what the Rock Cats do is cater do the "safe" suburban folks who don't want to venture into the city. I think as the city continues to turn the corner more people are going to have an interest in going to the city to take in a ballgame. I do wonder how economically viable two professional baseball teams less that 20 minutes away from eachother would fare.

Frankly, the question would be mute because major league baseball prohibits two affiliated ballclubs from being located within 55 miles from each other. The only reason the Defenders and the New Haven Ravens were able to exist is because the Rock Cats previous owner, Joe Buzas, waived his right to exert that rule to keep those two franchises out. (Ironically, he later complained about those two teams as a reason why the Rock Cats were not drawing crowds) I don't think it's fair to expect Dowling and his investors to give up on their multi-million dollar investment just so Hartford can have a AAA team. Now, if backers of the AAA movement were willing to involve the Rock Cats ownership in obtaining a AAA franchise, that's another story. Of course, there is also the issue of the state and the city of New Britain's investment in New Britain stadium. New Britain has roughly $2 million in bonds tied up in the stadium, so I'm not sure if they would be thrilled to see the primary tenant dissolved in favor of another stadium 12 miles to the north.

Frankly, I don't believe a AA team could coexist with a AAA team in such close proximity. That AA team would simply become irrelevant, and value of the francise would likely plummet.

Incidentally, the Dowling group has done wonders for the Rock Cats franchise, as opposed to Buzas who was notoriously cheap and disinterested in doing what it takes to draw large crowds to the ballpark. I'm perceiving an undercurrent of hostility toward him, which frankly, baffles me. The New Britain franchise has been in the state for more than 30 years and at least twice in that tenure, they were prepared to move to a different city. Hartford never made a play to get the team, so to imply that there is some sort of "safe" or "suburban" marketing going on seems to be a bit unfair.

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I think I was not clear in my previous statement. I have a great deal of respect for the Rock Cats franchise and the fan support they have been able to create in New Britain, and I have a lot of college friends that have gone on to be a part of that front office in one capacity or another. I am not hostile towards Dowling, if I was him I would be protecting my product as well. I think he and John Willi the AGM, are a model of successfully using a modern minor league facility to its greatest potential.

My other point was to point out that the Rock Cats have used the fact that they are in a small city, borderline suburb, to their advantage throughout the mid 90s and 2000's. For a long time people have enjoyed the ease of suburban facilities for a variety of reasons, and the Rock Cats have ridden that wave along with suburban malls, etc.

Ultimately the point is, yes, with the Rock Cats being so successful just 12 miles from Hartford, its nearly impossible to think a AAA or AA team in Hartford could work, regardless of MLB regulations.

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I think I was not clear in my previous statement. I have a great deal of respect for the Rock Cats franchise and the fan support they have been able to create in New Britain, and I have a lot of college friends that have gone on to be a part of that front office in one capacity or another. I am not hostile towards Dowling, if I was him I would be protecting my product as well. I think he and John Willi the AGM, are a model of successfully using a modern minor league facility to its greatest potential.

My other point was to point out that the Rock Cats have used the fact that they are in a small city, borderline suburb, to their advantage throughout the mid 90s and 2000's. For a long time people have enjoyed the ease of suburban facilities for a variety of reasons, and the Rock Cats have ridden that wave along with suburban malls, etc.

Ultimately the point is, yes, with the Rock Cats being so successful just 12 miles from Hartford, its nearly impossible to think a AAA or AA team in Hartford could work, regardless of MLB regulations.

Thanks for clarifying....I think we generally agree on this issue :) I think Hartford's shot at affiliated baseball went by the boards in the early 1980s when they didn't get involved in wooing the team from Bristol. They might have had another shot in 1994 when Buzas was deciding between Springfield and NB and New Britain Stadium hadn't been built yet.

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I would love to see a AAA baseball franchise in Hartford, but my main focus is seeing the NHL back in town.

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I would love to see a AAA baseball franchise in Hartford, but my main focus is seeing the NHL back in town.

I agree...hockey was Hartford's thing. Hockey didnt get overshadowed in Hartford like it does in other cities because other cities have basketball and baseball and football teams. Hartford was known and is still know nationally for the hockey team it had

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I agree...hockey was Hartford's thing. Hockey didnt get overshadowed in Hartford like it does in other cities because other cities have basketball and baseball and football teams. Hartford was known and is still know nationally for the hockey team it had

Exactly!! I say we get the Whaler's back first, and then get professional baseball next. Although I would love to see an NBA team in town. Hartford SuperSonics come to mind. :D

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A few of this issues several years back were that getting a stadium financed was a large issue. Maybe it is time for another stab at it. When baseball was talked about, several ideas were mentioned....Independant league was one, as was AAA, and even a stab at AA.

One problem is William Dowling who is the president of the Rock Cats and a well connected individual in the baseball community. He worked for George Steinbrenner at one time. A Triple A team in Hartford would clearly draw on the demand for AA tickets in New Britain, and I am sure some noise would be made. Baseball is an easier sell than even hockey is in this area.

Not to get too far off topic, but while we are talking about baseball, has anyone heard of the NECBL and the Manchester Silkworms? I am on the Board of Directors and business operations staff (all volunteer) for the team, and it is really high quality baseball. It is a summer wooden bat collegiate league that is about a half step away from the Cape Cod league. No one is getting ripped off at the gate with a $4 ticket for adults and kids 12 and under being free. I know most have not heard of us, but I wonder if anyone here has.

Robm:

The Manchester Silkworms are a good team! The NECBL has the Torrington Twisters and two other teams in CT -- IIRC. Do you guys play at Mt. Nebo -- or the park on New State?

JimS

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Exactly!! I say we get the Whaler's back first, and then get professional baseball next. Although I would love to see an NBA team in town. Hartford SuperSonics come to mind. :D

Hmmm...

A Hartford NBA team with Ray Allen on it! Hmmm... (Mohegan Sun, are you ready to expand your sports holdings?). lets see... a trade to the Bulls for Gordon and to the Bobcats for Okafor... :). A new 21,000 arena with Uconn basketball and a few UConn hockey games? (Frozen Four anyone?). Heck even UHart could start a hockey team and use it! :) And maybe the HS championship in HOCKEY -- or an Mass/Connecticut All-Star HOCKEY game.

JimS

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Hmmm...

A Hartford NBA team with Ray Allen on it! Hmmm... (Mohegan Sun, are you ready to expand your sports holdings?). lets see... a trade to the Bulls for Gordon and to the Bobcats for Okafor... :). A new 21,000 arena with Uconn basketball and a few UConn hockey games? (Frozen Four anyone?). Heck even UHart could start a hockey team and use it! :) And maybe the HS championship in HOCKEY -- or an Mass/Connecticut All-Star HOCKEY game.

JimS

I lke the way you think!!!!! :thumbsup::D

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Robm:

The Manchester Silkworms are a good team! The NECBL has the Torrington Twisters and two other teams in CT -- IIRC. Do you guys play at Mt. Nebo -- or the park on New State?

JimS

I am pretty sure they still play at Nebo, the new park on new state is for softball, no? shorter basepaths and pitching mounds

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Thanks for the kind words...

One of our problems is that we play in a park that many people in Manchester do not even know exists. The Silkworms play at Northwest Park, which is on Tolland Turnpike. The entrance is right next to the Bob's Discount furniture. Northwest Park is relatively new, it was only completed about 10 years ago at this point, and the silkworms moved in 6, going on 7 years ago in 2000.

At this point besides the Torrington Twisters, there is only one other Connecticut team in Danbury (the Westerners). As recently as three seasons ago there were two other teams, the Thread City Tides (played at ECSU, and were bought by former Sox GM Dan Duquette and are now the Pittsfield Dukes) and the Middletown Giants (who moved to Holyoke and kept the nickname "Giants"). In all the NECBL is a 12 team league with at least one team in each New England state.

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I lke the way you think!!!!! :thumbsup::D

drc:

Thanks. I still think if LG - and his Northlands Group - would build a nice 20K arena. Just think of the prospects Hartford could have. Frozen Four, Atlantic Hockey campionships, NCAA basketball regionals finals and more.

Jim S

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drc:

Thanks. I still think if LG - and his Northlands Group - would build a nice 20K arena. Just think of the prospects Hartford could have. Frozen Four, Atlantic Hockey campionships, NCAA basketball regionals finals and more.

Jim S

The possibilities are endless!!!! I haven't heard much on the arena front lately.

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The possibilities are endless!!!! I haven't heard much on the arena front lately.

It's alright, Larry G is a man of his word (so far), I have the utmost confidence that he'll come through...

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I love the Cape Cod League. My parents have a house in Chatham and those people go crazy over their A's.

Everyone knows the Kettleers are the best team in the league. Literally.

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I read an article in the NY Times about the Mets AAA affiliate being replaced in Norfolk, Va and having to move to New Orleans for the next two seasons. This relocation is not the ideal situation for the Mets because of the distance from the main club, the fact that N.O. plays in the Pacific Coast League, and other factors concerning the areas reputation. N.O. was chosen because they have the facilities. I wonder if Hartford could put something together in terms of a ballpark to get them up here after the contract expires? I think this would be a great chance to get high level minor league baseball belonging to a team with regional ties. Any thoughts?

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I read an article in the NY Times about the Mets AAA affiliate being replaced in Norfolk, Va and having to move to New Orleans for the next two seasons. This relocation is not the ideal situation for the Mets because of the distance from the main club, the fact that N.O. plays in the Pacific Coast League, and other factors concerning the areas reputation. N.O. was chosen because they have the facilities. I wonder if Hartford could put something together in terms of a ballpark to get them up here after the contract expires? I think this would be a great chance to get high level minor league baseball belonging to a team with regional ties. Any thoughts?

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I agree, baseball is probably the one and only minor league sport that works well in Connecticut. Minor league baseball has qualities that none of the other minor league sports have been able to, or have the ability to capture.

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The Rock Cats and a AAA team would not play each other, one is AA (lower) the other is AAA(higher). This is a perfect example of Hartford dumbing down. Let's cater to the lower minor league team instead of going for a better minor league team. I'd even be ok with a AAA team being in New Britain, but please let's look into the possibility. That being said, I know that will never happen, they'd rather just keep the crappy status quo....

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The Rock Cats and a AAA team would not play each other, one is AA (lower) the other is AAA(higher). This is a perfect example of Hartford dumbing down. Let's cater to the lower minor league team instead of going for a better minor league team. I'd even be ok with a AAA team being in New Britain, but please let's look into the possibility. That being said, I know that will never happen, they'd rather just keep the crappy status quo....

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