On Monday at Skylands Park in Augusta, New Jersey, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Barry Gordon and Team President Marc Klee announced that they have entered into an agreement to sell the New Jersey Cardinals, effective for the 2006 season.
A majority of the limited partners voted in favor of the transaction. This vote is only the first step, with any sale not being official until the NY-Penn League, the Minor League Baseball office, and Major League Baseball all grant their approvals.
The New Jersey Cardinals franchise was originally purchased in February of 1991 by Minor League Heroes, LP. At the time the team was operating in Hamilton, Ontario as the Hamilton Redbirds. Prior to the move to New Jersey, the team spent the 1993 season in Glens Falls, New York.
In their inaugural season in New Jersey in 1994, the Cardinals set a long-standing League attendance record which stood since 1957 and won the NY-Penn League Championship. Over the team’s 12-year history in New Jersey, they sent 26 players to the major league level including Matt Morris, Coco Crisp, Dan Haren, and Adam Kennedy.
New Jersey Cardinals Team President Tony Torre stated that while the current New Jersey ownership group “will pursue the right deal” to remain in baseball, it will “not be at Skylands Park”. He explained that “the atmosphere and physicality is not conducive”.
He made it clear that fans and employees alike will be “disappointed, but not surprised” by the decision to sell. “The fans and businesses have been great to us – we’ve truly been partners, but they understand the battles we’ve faced over stadium conditions. The owners had little options,” Torre said.
The new home of the Cardinals will be the new stadium being built at State College, PA, with the team ownership being that of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Double-A affiliate, the Altoona Curve.
Chuck Greenberg, the President and Managing Partner of the Curve and its group of investors, Curve Baseball, LP, confirmed the move Monday afternoon. “We are the proposed purchaser and intend to relocate the franchise to State College for the 2006 New York-Penn League season, subject to all requisite baseball approvals,” he explained.
The 43-year old Pittsburgh native and practicing corporate and sports attorney assured me that the team will remain a Cardinals affiliate next season. “We would be inheriting the
existing player development agreement New Jersey has with the Cardinals, which runs through the '06 season.” However, plans after that remain to be seen.
Greenberg is optimistic that the deal will be completed quickly and smoothly. “I would expect team nickname, logo and mascot to be announced next month, with the deal closing just before or after year end.”
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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