Mets block Yanks from hosting AAA team in Newark next season

Update (8:30pm): Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees offered the Mets $250k and a matching evergreen proposal for allowing them to use Newark, but  apparently that’s not enough. The matching evergreen proposal basically means the Yankees would allow the Mets to move one of their minor league teams into their territory (for one year) sometime in the future, extending the same courtesy they were asking of the Mets. Quarter of a million bucks though? I never thought someone could love Newark that much.

Original Post (3:30pm): Via Jerry Izenberg, the Mets used their territory rights to block the Yankees from housing the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in Newark next season. Brian Cashman and Essex County exec Joseph DiVincenzo reached an agreement that would have allowed the team to play at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium in 2012 (home of the Newark Bears), but the Mets shot it down because “their organization would only do something like that with mutual and immediate reciprocity.” The Yankees made the Mets several offers, including at least one involving an undisclosed amount of cash, but still no dice.

PNC Field is undergoing major renovations, which will force the team to play at an alternate site next year. The deadline to submit a proposal for such a site was missed earlier this month, but league execs have established a timetable to ensure that this gets resolved in a timely manner. Ottawa, another potential home, appears to be off the table as well.

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Triple-A Scranton Yanks still don’t have a home for 2012

Via Josh Leventhal, the deadline for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees to submit a proposal indicating where the team would like to play its 2012 home games came and went without a submission today. PNC Field will be undergoing extensive renovations, so the club will have to play at an alternative site next season. International League president Randy Mobley said the “league directors have established a timeline and process that will assure this matter is resolved in a timely manner.” Lehigh Valley and Rochester are said to be under consideration, and a few weeks ago we heard that Staten Island could be a possibility as well.

In other news, Leventhal says the sale of the franchise to the Yankees and Mandalay Sports for $14.6M had yet to be brought before the league, but the sale is expected to be approved. “If there were something in the early phases that would cause the league to blow it up, that would have already occurred,” said Mobley, referring to the sale.

UPDATE: Staten Island Yanks being sold, SWB Yanks being purchased

Update (Sept. 15th): More from Pimpsner. Apparently Mandalay doesn’t want anything to do with the Staten Island franchise after the sale if the Yankees are not involved. They will likely look to purchase another team, and their are several on the market. Important thing to remember: SI will remain the Yankees affiliate.

In other news, Mandalay and the Yankees are teaming up to buy the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees for $14.6M. Much of that money is going towards PNC Field renovations, which will force the team to play all their games on the road next year.

Original Post (Sept. 14th): Via Robert Pimpsner, the Staten Island Yankees are being sold to a NYC hedge fund manager for $8.3M. It’s the second time the franchise has been sold in the last five years, but the first time it was the Yankees and Mandalay Sports Entertainment that did the purchasing. Average attendance has been dropping in recent years, and the sale was financially motivated. It’s unclear if Mandalay will remain involved with the team, but the franchise will remain in Staten Island and affiliated with the Yankees. An official announcement is expected soon.

Triple-A Scranton to play all home games on the road in 2012

Via Josh Leventhal and Everett Merrill, the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees will have to play all of their home games on the road next year while PNC Field undergoes a $40M renovation project. The International League has tentatively approved the team’s plans to play at an alternate location in 2012, and they has until Sept. 20th to submit a final proposal.

At the moment, the club is considering six alternate locations, but league president Randy Mobley decline to name them. “Generally speaking, we are considering existing league facilities and others outside the league,” he said. Lehigh Valley, about an hour south, of Scranton is one possibility, as is Ottawa. The league had a team in Canada’s capitol until 2007. Another interesting possibility: Staten Island. The Yankees would love the proximity to the big league team, and since Short Season Staten Island doesn’t begin play until late-June, there would be less scheduling conflicts. Now that would be conveniently awesome.

Yankees GM resigns

Oh, no not Brian Cashman. My bad. I’m talking about Triple-A Scranton GM Jeremy Ruby, who resigned to take over as the athletic director of the Abington Heights School District. His responsibilities will also include “working on ways to help the district raise funds to address an ever-widening gap between the district’s income and expenses.” Ruby had been with the Scranton franchise since 1999, when it was it a Phillies affiliate.

A minor league GM is a manager in the more traditional sense. He/she won’t sign or trade for players, but they make sure everything is running smoothly. Minor league clubs are businesses and are there to make money, and someone has to oversee that operation.

Details emerge in Scranton Yanks sale dispute

An artist's rendering of the proposed renovations to Scranton's PNC Field.

We reported last week on the impending sale of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre AAA franchise to the Yankees and Mandalay Bay. At the time, the details included a $40-million stadium renovation plan and a $14.8-million price tag on the franchise. But since then, more information has come to light that sheds a less-than-flattering light on the stadium shenanigans.

Currently, two parallel disputes have the potential to plague the project. The first is a lawsuit brought by Luzerne County officials. They claim that because they ponied up $1 million in 1986 — or half of the purchase price for the franchise — they are now owed half of the money from the impending sale. Lackawanna County, the physical home of the franchise and selling party, filed a countersuit requesting $20 million or half of what it has spent on baseball. The impending lawsuits will derail immediate plans to use the proceeds from the stadium sale.

Meanwhile, the sale and sweetheart terms of the agreement — more on that in a second — seem to be the product of intense lobbying by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. As The Times-Tribune reported yesterday, Rendell was a driving factor behind the sale and pledged $20 million in state money to fund the ballpark renovations as well. He didn’t do anything wrong or illegal, but his actions have led to the tensions in Northeast Pennsylvania.

Furthermore, now that details of the lease agreement have leaked, this deal is looking more and more like a losing proposition for the taxpayers of Pennsylvania. The $14.7 million the county will receive from the purchase of the franchise is to be reinvested in stadium upgrades, and the state will add in another $20 million. Neither the SWB Yankees nor the purchasing entity — the New York Yankees and Mandalay Bay — would have to chip in any additional money for the stadium upgrades. If the renovations come in under budget, the remaining dollars will be held in a sinking fund for future improvements and repairs.

And so what we have is yet another municipal stadium mess. Lackawanna County contends that baseball will depart from Northeast Pennsylvania without this investment while Luzerne County claims the sale price of the franchise is too low. More than $7 million from the purchase of the team will be held by the court, and the battle — and state’s and city’s willingness to fork over $40 million in taxpayer dollars with dubious fiscal returns — will loom over the 2011 AAA season.

After the jump, I’ve posted the Memorandum of Understanding between the Multi-Purpose Stadium Authority of Lackawanna County and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. It highlights how much of a good deal the franchise is getting in this sale. [Read more…]

Lackawanna County approves sale of Scranton franchise

An artist's rendering of the proposed renovations to Scranton's PNC Field.

Lackawanna County, owners of the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise, have agreed to sell the team to the Yankees and Mandalay Baseball Properties for $14.6 million. The new owners will sign a 30-year lease with Scranton and have pledged $40 million for stadium renovations, David Singleton of The Times Tribune reported last night.

The Yankees had originally expressed interest in purchasing the team back in September, but political wrangling held up the sale for a few months. Even still, Luzerne County, passive part-owners of the Scranton franchise, is making noises about holding up the deal. That’s Pennsylvania county politics for you.

As Donnie Collins outlines, the sale will come with new terms attached. In addition to the stadium renovation funds, the team’s rent will increase from $150,000 to $750,000, and the least continues an option that could keep the franchise in place for 50 years. The Scranton stadium authority could repurchase the ballpark if the franchise relocates or ends its Yankee affiliation. New York, however, has been inclined to keep the team in Scranton due to the proximity factor. It is only a two-hour drive from the Majors to the AAA.

Overall, the Yankees are committing $37 million to the region, and while local politicians are wary about chipping in a few million in taxpayer dollars as part of the matching funds for the stadium renovation, they recognize its better than losing the team.

As for the renovations, they are extensive. Stadium capacity will drop from 10,500 to between 8000-8500, and the entire park will be overhauled. David Singleton offers up this take:

Under the proposal, only four elements of the existing stadium would be retained: the lower seating bowl, the playing field, the home locker room and the parking lots, Mr. Schmitt said. Everything else, including the upper-level deck, would be demolished.

The rebuilt stadium would have an elevated single- or double-tier of suites, club seats and media facilities behind home plate, but the rest of the seating would be on or below a concourse that would wrap around the entire playing field like a promenade, he said.

The promenade concept, now popular at many major and minor league stadiums, allows fans to view the game from multiple vantage points, he said. “The idea of a promenade lends itself, we think, to the very leisurely and social aspect of attending a ballgame,” [architect Craig] Schmitt said.

It’s a safe bet to assume that the Yanks will extend their PDC with Scranton well beyond the current 2014 expiration date. For minor league fans in Central Pennsylvania, baseball is seemingly there to stay.