JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown Jammers collegiate league baseball team won’t be taking the field in 2019.
That was the news delivered Wednesday during a press conference at Russell E. Diethrick Jr. Park as the owners of the collegiate team – ROC Ventures – announced the team would be going dark next year, with a plan to transfer ownership as a donation to a soon-to-be-created nonprofit group called Jamestown Community Baseball LLC in time for the start of the 2020 season.
Jamestown Jammers Manager and community relation representative for ROC Ventures Anthony Barone said the decision had nothing to do with finances as the team had strong community support through sponsorship and attendance. Instead, the decision was because the Milwaukee-based owners wanted to focus on another baseball team closer to its home base.
“ROC Ventures and its other sports and entertainment interests are based in the Milwaukee area. We’ve created a new professional baseball team called the Milwaukee Milkmen. They’ll begin playing in the legendary American Association, a professional baseball league during the 2019 season,” Barone said. “It’s a great opportunity for ROC to take aim at a new venture in a professional atmosphere.”
The Jammers play in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League – a summer league intended to help college players hone their skills while they are out of school. Led by Barone, the Jammers won the league pennant this past summer.
PGCBL president Robert Julian said that while local interests were hoping to have the ownership transfer in time for the 2019 season, his suggestion was to let the team go dark for one year in order to allow for the development of a sound business plan to ensure success in future years.
“The prudent thing for this community would be to go dark in 2010, which is not uncommon in our league. It is an important component built into our league bylaws,” Julian explained. “It is a tactic that allows communities and teams to reorganize and do so under a circumstance where they’re not under tremendous financial and management pressure to field a team immediately when the circumstances are not fully in place.”
Julian said the annual operating budget for a team in the league is about $150,000 to $200,000. He said because a nonprofit group would be taking over, it may be easier to run the team because the drive for profit is taken out of the equation.
“We will work with the city and the local group on the timing and the transition to ensure the new owners have every chance to build a successful team and product here at Diethrick Park,” Barone said.
Barone and Julian were joined by Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi, baseball enthusiast and local attorney Greg Peterson, Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame director Randy Anderson, and retired city parks director and long-time baseball supporters Russ Diethrick, who the stadium is named after.
The stadium is owned by the city and Mayor Teresi said his executive budget released earlier this month already accounted for the Jammers going dark in 2019, although those details were never brought up in his budget presentation on Oct. 9, nor when the city parks department met with the city council to go over the budget numbers on Oct. 15.
Peterson also said that anyone who wants to assist with the new nonprofit group should reach out, adding that their help will be needed and appreciated since it will be a community-wide effort to make the new ownership group a success.
The group is expected to be created and a new business plan in place by the middle of next spring.
“The process is already under way to create the appropriate structure. Conversations are under way with folks to add to the group on both counsel and also on an investor basis,” Teresi said.