So, there is a lot of baseball talk in Columbia, SC right now.
- This is a great synopsis of the history of baseball in Columbia and the City's baseball facilities.
So, there is a lot of baseball talk in Columbia, SC right now.
- This is a great synopsis of the history of baseball in Columbia and the City's baseball facilities.
Hardball Capital, which owns the Savannah Sand Gnats, would put up $6 million toward construction of the park which is currently budgeted to be $35 million. The City will pay for the remaining $29 million with a hospitality tax bond, to be repaid over 30 years.
This might be a Mets issue and might not. The Mets' Player Development Contract with the Savannah Sand Gnats runs through the 2014 season. The two parties can renew anytime. Once the season ends without an agreement, the Mets and Gnats would each be free to hunt for other partners (the Mets for an a-ball team, the Gnats for a MLB team.) A Gnats franchise moving into a new ballpark in Columbia, would be very desirable for a MLB team's perspective which wants the best developmental environment (new training facilities, weight rooms, batting cages, clubhouses) and yes, fans for their prospects. The Gnats lease with the City of Savannah also expires at the end of the 2014 season.
Columbia, SCTuesday, the Columbia, SC City Council met again on the proposal to spend $92 million on the Bull Street Redevelopment project which will also include a new ballpark (accounting for roughly $35 million of the project cost). The action in the meeting considered different funding mechanisms for the City's contribution to the ballpark, which mostly dealt with the type and quantity of bonds the city can legally and practically issue. (ColaDaily)
There's a lot more about the structure of potential bonds here. The City can either "wrap" or "layer" their bond payments around their existing obligations. Wrapping would keep the City's total bond payments (including existing commitments) to ~$2.5 million annually through 2044, while layering would keep payments on the new Bull Street bonds constant- leading to higher bond payments from 2015-2025, and then smaller payments thereafter. (ColaDaily)
Some members of the Savannah City Council have lost their enthusiasm for a new baseball stadium, now that the owner of the Sand Gnats has entered into negotiations with Columbia, S.C., for a minor league team and stadium there.
Mayor Edna Jackson and aldermen expressed their hesitation during a retreat on Tuesday, while discussing whether they still wanted to pay a consultant to analyze the feasibility of building a multi-use facility at the Savannah River Landing site, east of downtown.The City Council is not balking over spending money on a ballpark. Rather, the current issue is whether the City will pay for a new feasibility and economic study. The last study, which one Alderman wants to review, was done in 2000.
According to the State newspaper, the 5-2 vote followed a 5.5 hour meeting.
City Financial Planner Jeff Palen also suggested a plan which rests on a mix of bonds against future water and sewer revenues, loans and an existing surplus in water and sewer funds, to cover the City's $90.2 in obligations for the ballpark and the infrastructure associated with the Bull Street development.
If you have not been following the story, if Columbia, SC agrees to work with the Gnats' ownership group on a new ballpark, and Savannah does not, the Gnats will likely be headed to South Carolina.
The State newspaper reported:
Greenville developer Bob Hughes has agreed in principle to donate the land for what would become perhaps the first anchor project on the sprawling Bull Street site.
Jason Freier, owner of minor league baseball teams in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Savannah, on Wednesday guaranteed he would bring a team to Columbia if the city builds a new ballpark as part of the redevelopment of the old State Hospital campus on Bull Street.Here's Freier's quote:
?If we do a deal with Columbia, we?ll bring an affiliated minor league baseball team here. I have a lease in place with the city of Savannah that runs through end of the 2014 season. We have no legal commitments with the city of Savannah beyond the 2014 season. We would love to work with the city of Savannah. It?s what we?ve told them and that?s the truth. But if we made a commitment to the city of Columbia, that commitment would be our first commitment. We wouldn?t make any commitments to Savannah after that.?
Wednesday's story in the the State, Columbia's newspaper makes the Sand Gnats connection explicit, "Columbia officials are talking with Savannah Sand Gnats owner Jason Freier about potentially moving the Class A South Atlantic League team here if Freier can?t convince Savannah to build a new stadium to replace Grayson Stadium, built in 1926."
The Sand Gnats' lease with the City of Savannah and their player development contract withe the New York Mets both run through the 2014 season. I believe that it is still possible, if things move quickly enough in Columbia that the Gnats could move to Columbia (with the Mets renewing, or with a new MLB affiliation for the 2015 season).
Yesterday, William Ladson reported that the Washington Nationals and the Syracuse Chiefs would extend their working agreement through the 2018 season.
A little history first. Following four years with the Buffalo Bisons from 2009 through 2012, in which the Bisons saw attendance decline, the Bisons sought an affiliation with the closer Toronto Blue Jays. That pushed the Mets west to Las Vegas and the 51s where they signed a two-year player development contract for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Remember, Player Development Contracts are almost always mutual, both the Major League and the Minor League team must want to be partners with each other. The exception is the 30th team. If the Mets and Las Vegas are the last big league team and the last minor league team without a dance partner at a given level AAA through a-ball, they are forced onto the floor together.
In Fort Wayne, the city put up about $25 million, while Hardball Capital, which also owns the Gnats, invested about $5 million. However, in an interview with Sport Radio 102.1's Seth Harp, Monday afternoon, Hardball Capital CEO Jason Frieir told Harp that when the full costs of operation and maintenance were factored in, the team bore the "majority" of the costs, "Over 30 years, in Fort Wayne, it was over 50% private money," Freier said. "If you take all of the costs into account, we're talking about something that primarily privately funded."
In part, the impetus for this push in Savannah is the progress the city of Columbia, South Carolina is making toward building a new ballpark as part of their Bull Street development. Most recently, Columbia approved a feasibility study for a ballpark in November. Following the first meeting of the Bull Street Commission last week, WIST.com reported that "A contract on the study is expected by the end of January."
The planned new stadium in Columbia is supposed to help anchor the new Bull Street Development?which is being planned and built on a 165 acre parcel that used to house an insane asylum.
This hardly guarantees that the Savannah Sand Gnats will move to Columbia, but it moves one step closer to Columbia building a stadium for a team. The Mets' contract with Savannah is up at the end of the 2014 season, as well. If the Gnats do indeed move to Columbia, it might not be as a Mets affiliate.
The Mets AAA affiliate, at least for one more year, through the 2014 season, will be the Las Vegas 51s.
Here are the new four-team divisions.
This round of stories started with Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin who talked to the State newspaper. As the State reports, ?
Mayor Steve Benjamin says he is in?serious talks with a minor league baseball owner to bring a team to Columbia and could present a stadium funding proposal to City Council as early as this fall.
Benjamin told The State he plans to visit later this month a stadium that the undisclosed owner has built in the Midwest. It and its public/private funding model could serve as a template for a new stadium here, he said.
Despite public assurances by its owner that the team is not on the move, several baseball sources say the Eastern League's Binghamton Mets are the team that has been targeted for a renovated ballpark in Ottawa.
Binghamton hopes to keep minor league baseball in town, however, with a short-season New York-Penn League franchise. Sources said city officials have already inquired about purchasing the Batavia Muckdogs.At the end of August, the Mets signed a four-year extension with the B-Mets covering the 2013-2016 baseball seasons. If indeed, the B-Mets move to Ottowa for 2014, the Mets would have their AA team in Canada's capital for three years. Given the uncertainty about the B-Mets future, I do not understand why the Mets signed a four-year deal when they did.
In Savannah, part of the concept earlier this year was to use SPLOST money originally earmarked for a new arena. However, now, Savannah officials are considering shifting $19 million from that account toward renovating the existing Civic Center. This is a wildly unpopular idea.
The League and the refs are arguing about a number of things (pensions, salary, adding refs, full time vs. part time) that all come back to money. On pensions, the refs were promised a fairly valuable pension plan, that the League is trying to change into a 401k, where the officials would have to invest some of their salary and take on additional risk. That is an unfair demand from the NFL without further concessions. The most reasonable thing to do would be to grandfather the old refs in on their current play and start new officials off on the the new 401k deal. The alternative is that the NFL increases pay for all refs so that the value of the retirement benefits drop in comparison to total salaries.
On salary, the two sides are closer, in the words of Tim Millis, the NFLRA executive director, the disagreement on salary "?is a gap that could be closed with some minor concessions by both sides." The two sides are arguing over much less than 1% annually of league revenues, for a league that is the most valuable sports property in America.
Remember, teams and their affiliates can sign an extension to their PDC at any time.
The Mets need need new affiliates at two levels: AAA and A-ball. In the AAA case, the only open spot is Vegas. There are lots of options in A-ball where the Mets and Savannah Sand Gnats have not announced a new agreement.
The most important point as far as I'm concerned is that Bisons attendance has been falling fairly steadily, since 1991. That's over two decades of straight slipping. Some years, the declines are larger than others, but the declines are real and consistent.
You know what else has been declining in the last twenty one years? The Buffalo population, which is less than half of its 1950s peak. To be fair, the population of the other major Western New York cities like Syracuse and Rochester has been falling as well. Buffalo is a relatively poor city with a median household income of $30,043 as of the last census, well below the New York State median of $55,603. Perhaps more damning, 30% of Buffalo lived below the poverty level.
Tuesday, the Houston Astros and the Oklahoma City Redhawks extended their PDC for two more years, while the Nashville Sounds and the Milwaukee Brewers did the same. ?The Marlins and New Orleans Zephyrs already extended their relationship through 2014.
There are only four AAA teams without a PDC for 2013: Buffalo, Las Vegas, Memphis and Tucson. Memphis is Cardinals' country and a lock to resign with St. Louis. Tucson is a Padres affiliate, and surely will resign. That leaves the Blue Jays and Mets on the Major League side and the Bisons and Las Vegas 51s on the AAA side. At least the 51s have a sweet new logo (pictured at right).
There had been rumors that the Binghamton team was going to be sold and moved to Ottowa. That seems unlikelier now.
Binghamton is last in the Eastern League in attendance, drawing 2,888 fans per night the AA Eastern League where six teams average over 5,000 per night and eight of the 12 teams pull in over 4,000.
Rather, this disappointing result, down from a high of 17,235 per game back in 1991, is the culmination of a slide that has lasted over two decades. That's average attendance on the y-axis matched by year on the x-axis.
"It's a shame for us, really. Buffalo is a great city but I don't envision us coming back, from the things I've heard from the grapevine."Again, after last Friday's news that the Rochester Red Wings will reupp with the Minnesota Twins, Buffalo is the only International League team with an expiring Player Development Contract. If the Mets cannot mend their relationship with the Bisons in the next few weeks, they will be Pacific Coast League bound.
There's a sense in which it is surprising to hear Wally Backman become the first Mets person to speak definitively on the topic. He was answering a question from Harrington honestly, but I wonder how that will play among his bosses.
In an accompanying opinion piece, Mandalaro writes that this was the logical move for Rochester, "But the ?best? club that figures to be available is the Mets, and they?re about to get kicked out of Buffalo after getting ejected from Norfolk and New Orleans. Wings officials are wary about hitching their wagon to the Mets, and I don?t blame them."? He's right on two of the three counts. The Mets were thrilled to leave New Orleans for Buffalo, but yes, the other two affiliations with International Leagues were ended by the affiliate and not the Mets.
That leaves one pair of Major League-International League team pairing without a contract for 2013: the New York Mets and the Buffalo Bisons. The Mets and Bisons could still each decide that they want to renew, but the decision has to be mutual. The Bisons must want the Mets in addition to the Mets wanting to stay in Buffalo.
Meanwhile in Buffalo, Mike Harrington in the Buffalo News blames the Buffalo Bisons attendance drop in part on the Mets, and calls for the Bisons to dispatch the Mets and seek an affiliation agreement with the Toronto Blue Jays who would be thrilled to move their AAA affiliate from Las Vegas.
This puts the Jenrry Mejia to the bullpen in even clearer perspective. The Mets clearly thought Mejia was relatively done developing and ready to the help the big league club now.
- Patrick Bringley from Amazin' Avenue talks to Cyclones' outfielder Brandon Nimmo.
As for the rest of the issues discussed, I'm skeptical. Baseball as a whole is paying too little attention to incentives. It's great that college football functions as a minor league for the NFL, but this is an area, player development, where, in my opinion, baseball does it much better than football. College coaches, both baseball and football, believe it or not, care most about winning games, and not the professional development of their athletes. College baseball coaches regularly stretch pitchers out to pitch counts that would be unthinkable in minor league baseball. Players leave college all the time with swings that will not work in pro ball. Professional baseball is better at developing professional baseball players than college. It's that simple. ?Major League Baseball's goal should be about creating the best MLB product, and believe it or not, that means expanding the number of players playing professionally and receiving professional caliber instruction. Propping up college baseball to outsource player development is foolish.
If MLB wants to sponsor a few scholarships or the College World Series, fine, but it's not going to produce a structural change like increasing the number of black professional baseball players, which the article includes as a goal of the relationship.
Both the defendants and the Trustee picked up concessions to settle.
The only way to understand the agreement is through the prism of the court's rulings since March 1. First, on March 5, the court ruled that the Wilpon/Katz group was liable for $83 million in "fictitious profits" even before the trial. This $83 million number was calculated as the profits accumulated over the final two years of Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme.
It's a win for the Wilpon/Katz families in the sense that Picard started by looking for nearly a billion dollars. ?It's a loss, because to state the extremely obvious, $162 million dollars is a lot of money.
The next step will be payment. The Wilpon/Katz families will not have to come up with $162 million immediately. Sandomir tweeted that "Payment can be made thru own recoveries as Madoff losers." This is going to (remain) complicated. As I understand it, Wilpon and Katz were part of multiple funds with Madoff that were both net winners and net losers. So some percentage of the $162 million will come back to them as payment in cases where they lost money. EDIT: It turns out a lot of this payment will be paid for by the Wilpons/Katz own recovery as losers. From Darren Rovell, "Mets owners expect to be paid $162M amount owed from Madoff victim fund."
Friday's piece did not spend very much time on it, but one thing that comes into play when teams start talking about moving around is territorial rights. Today's piece focuses on territorial rights issues provoked by the chance that the Binghamton Mets might be bought, and move to Ottawa.
All affiliated teams Major and minor league teams have territorial rights, but they are hierarchical, so they are of unequal power. Major League teams hold territorial rights, preventing another team from moving to close to them, for a number of counties around their stadium. A triple-A franchise has territorial rights that would block fellow AAA franchises, double-A teams and on down, but not MLB teams. ?Double-A teams' rights don't extend to AAA teams and MLB teams and on down the chain.
First, the news. Yesterday, the city of Ottowa announced that they had selected a private development partner Beacon Sports Partners, to work with on rehabbing their existing stadium for double-A baseball by 2013. ?The City would put up $5.7 million and the firm would contribute $5.5 "as the authorized representative for a stipulated professional baseball franchise that is a member of the AA Eastern League of Minor League Baseball," as the city's press release explains. ?Note that which double-A Eastern League franchise is not?specified?officially. As I read it, Beacon Partners is not obligated to start contributing until they are officially representing an Eastern League team (but that could be wrong).
The deal between Beacon Partners and the City of Ottowa is not yet official. It sill must be approved by the city Council on February 22. ?Peter Radke, a manager in the?Ottawa?real estate partnerships development office told Baseball America, "only one team is being represented by Beacon Sports and negotiating with the city."
Here's the Mets official (terse) statement:
"Mets Limited Partnership engaged CRG Partners to provide services in connection with financial reporting and budgeting processes."CRG Partners doesn't only do bankruptcies, although that certainly is an important component of their business. ?From the company's website, "CRG Partners offers our clients a diverse suite of operational improvement and financial restructuring services: Performance Improvement, Turnaround Management, Bankruptcy Reorganization, Financial Advisory and Fiduciary Services."
The games are played at a pretty low level, but it is the first exposure to professional baseball. This is the most important facet of rookie ball - the at bats and innings young players get. ?In 2011, the GCL Mets collective had 1854 AB and threw 491 innings over 56 games. ?Brandon Nimmo, Michael Fulmer and Joe Tuschak and others from the 2011 draft class made his professional debuts. Erik Goeddel and Kai Gronauer, minor leaguers from full-season leagues, used the GCL as a return to competitive action.
How much money could the Mets be saving here? ?In player and coach salaries it's probably about $250,000. ?Travel costs were low, almost all of the team's road trips were commutes with no hotel stays. ?If I recall correctly, the Mets owned their own Florida bus (going rates on coach rentals are about $700-800 per day). ?What other costs are there? ?The team was paying for some of the dorms and food for their players. ?This was probably a major cost. Insurance, which is probably not insignificant. ?League dues, which are probably?insignificantly?small - under $10k annually. ?Uniforms - also probably insignificant since the GCL team wore hand-me-downs. ?David Waldstein in the New York times puts the annual cost of a GCL team at $750-800,000 annually. ?For those keeping score at home, that's roughly 1/5-1/4 of a Jon Rauch annually.
Here's the list of the Winter Meetings locations for the last decade plus:
Thanks to the invaluable Cot's Contracts, the Reyes-Miami pact is the :
Weiner:?Yes. The union did not come into these negotiations with proposals to modify the [June] draft. For management, that was perhaps their most aggressive objective. They said that what they were trying to achieve was competitive balance. We questioned them, really at every turn, on whether their proposals really would achieve those goals. We told them that we had heard from general managers, and from other people in baseball operations of clubs, that they weren't in favor of some of the proposals that had been placed on the table by the commissioner's office.
The negotiators said, "We have a consensus in favor of these issues."
5. All international amateur players must register with the Scouting Bureau to be eligible to?sign, and the top 100 prospects will be subject to a drug test.In the past, teams have hid their favorite players in their complexes to keep him away from other teams. ?That should never happen. ?Now, this process should help teams verify each player's age and identity and make it easier to scout the best. ?This will introduce a level of transparency that will help the process.
Some national writers have seemed to endorse hiding players to keep from other teams. ?I think that's the wrong idea.
The other positive thing is that it happened, and got done without a strike or a lockout. There's no question sports is a business. It's a big business. But most fans don't want to think of it as a business. It's supposed to be a fun diversion. I think fans just want to see games rather than dive into the nitty-gritty dollars and cents stuff.
BalanceThe Astros move to the AL to create two balanced, 15 team leagues with three five-team divisions in each. ?This is fairer. ?No longer will the NL Central have six teams and the AL West four. ?Having an interleague series every day of the season will be odd, but it will surely give lie to the argument that the majority of interleague games outside of the marquee rivalry series (Mets-Yankees, Cubs-White Sox, Angels-Dodgers) do anything for attendance.
Here's the important stuff about how teams are going to be punished for going over their specific slot:
... If teams exceed the bonus limit set my Major League Baseball by more than 5%, they get hit with a?75% tax. If they exceed it by between 5 and 10%, they get a 75% tax and they lose a first round pick the next year. ?If you?re?10-15% over, it?s a 100% tax and the loss of a first and second round pick. Fifteen percent or higher a ?is 100% tax and the loss of two first-round picks.
It looks like a strong step that the B-Mets have extended their lease for five years. ?However, there is important stuff is beyond the press release: including all of the financial terms, and importantly for a team rumored to be for sale, what are the team's options for a buyout/move?
Urda insisted that there were no current negotiations to sell the team:?"People may want to talk to us, but they haven't. Nobody has talked to us," he told Worthy.
The B-Mets were last in the 12-team Eastern League in attendance per game at 3,167.
Beacon Sports Capital Partners?recently asked Ottawa city officials about a ballpark lease for a?Minor League Baseballteam. Though city officials won't identify the team or the league, we're told there have been serious negotiations to buy theBinghamton Mets?(Class AA; Eastern League) and move the team to Ottawa as soon as 2013, should a new lease be arranged.
A source aware of the matter said Einhorn's portrayal of the situation as the Wilpons continually changing terms is inaccurate. Instead, the source said, Einhorn figured he had the Wilpons in a bind and looked to exploit it, thinking minor late changes from the current owners to the agreement were a sign of weakness. So Fred Wilpon met with Einhorn on Thursday morning in midtown Manhattan and informed the hedge fund guru that the exclusive negotiating window had expired and they were no longer going to be entertaining him as a minority partner.Emphasis added. Interesting that Einhorn was willing to put his name on record on his accusation, but Rubin's source was not.
Now the plan is to sell multiple smaller stakes in the franchise that to family and friends in deals that will not need MLB approval. ?So who's got $15-20 million to burn?
I am disappointed to announce that I will not be purchasing an ownership interest in the?New York Metsbaseball team at this time. It is clear that it will not be possible for me to consummate the transaction on the terms that the Sterling-Mets organization and I originally agreed to several months ago. The extensive nature of changes that were proposed to me at the last minute has made a successful transaction impossible.Emphasis added.
FLUSHING, N.Y., September 1, 2011?? The New York Mets? Owners announced today that their period of exclusive negotiations with David Einhorn regarding a minority, non-operating interest in the Mets has expired and Ownership has decided not to extend the exclusive negotiating period any further.? After months of negotiation, the parties were unable to reach agreement, and Mets Ownership has decided to explore other options.
Ownership has provided additional capital to cover all 2011 losses and is moving forward with the necessary resources to continue to operate the franchise.? Ownership will explore other strategic transactions and is under no financial pressure to do a deal on any particular schedule.
I see that the Mets' minor league teams wrapped up their ST games a day or two ago, though their seasons don't start until late next week.
Different affiliates wrapped up their Spring Training schedules on different days.? Buffalo finished Friday as did the B-Mets.? The A-ball teams played Saturday and worked out Sunday.? This is pretty standard.? This is scheduled to allow players and coaches to arrive in their new "home" cities on Sunday night.? The Mets pay for the travel cost and guys can either drive, if they have their car in Spring Training or fly. ? Obviously, the AAA and AA players have farther to travel than the A-ballers who are driving the six hours to Savannah.What do they do during that long stretch to get "game ready" for OD? And are the Mets' teams unique in this, or do other organizations do this also?
Fernando Martinez just showed us something beautiful in that AB vs the LHP. Patience, patience, and bat speed. #stayhealthykid #MetsAdam Foster of Project Prospect also tweeted about Martinez's potential:
As a 1B, I think he has 30+ HR potential and could put up a wOBA around .360 RT @MeanyMikey: Any projections for F-Mart?It's worth next to nothing, but Martinez has been productive in his 20 plate appearances this spring, going 7-for-17 (.412) with two doubles, and a home run.? I think more importantly than a few base hits, or even some power, is that he's drawn three walks and fanned four times.? That's a very nice piece of strike zone control.
I also pointed out that he needs a better nickname than F-Mart, which just sounds boring and cheap.