Former Field Manager Blames Owners for Bears Demise

Newark Bears LogoKen Oberkfell, former field manager of the now-defunct indy pro Newark Bears (Can-Am League), paints a depressing picture of bumbling mismanagement of the club by owners Douglas Spiel and his wife, Danielle Dronet.  Oberkfell is now field manager for the indy pro Lincoln SaltDogs (American Association).  Spiel and Dronet are reportedly no longer a couple.  Read more here.  Thanks to John Cerone for the link.

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5 Comments

Filed under League & Franchise, Money & Financials, Personnel & Operations

5 responses to “Former Field Manager Blames Owners for Bears Demise

  1. I do not think that when Cerone owned the Bears that the team was drawing as well he would have liked. Despite, respectable crowds, the Bears had hope for much larger attendance figures and other businesses to blossom around the area.

  2. It is hard to disagree with the valid points Ken makes…however there are a lot of factors that come to play here. The franchise was on a negative downward spiral for years before Doug and Danielle took over control of the team. First the points of Rick Cerone aren’t very relevant as he sold the team in 2003…there has been 4 other owners since then, two of which were some of the most successful independent league club owners in the country. John like you experienced in Joliet, downtown ballparks are never as easy as a rural ballpark when your the only game in town. Now take Joliet and imagine 20 times the traffic. Newark is part of Metropolitan New York, while Morris and Essex County are affluent counties, full of population it is a pass-through town after 6pm. Living and working in New York and operating businesses in Trenton and Jersey City, often going through Newark myself, game times were also a factor when most in the city are reliant on public transportation getting out of work at 5pm, then driving 20 minutes home which in that area in any direction could take between 40 and 90 minutes or more, then getting the kids ready and hopping back on the highway to get back to the Metro area for 7pm is not an easy or feasibly responsible feat. Newark was left for dead and set up for failure before Doug and Danielle took over…this included an ownership scandal with major negative press, a takeover of operations from the Atlantic League who after a year of operations declared Newark “not a minor league baseball market”, that doesn’t sit easy with the few hundred people they had as season tickets and the corporate partners they had from the beginning. Then when they joined the Can-Am League the Can-Am had become an indy graveyard for failed Atlantic League teams (i.e. Nashua, Atlantic City, Lehigh Valley, Newburgh, Newark, etc.) where the fans that had paid their $10 per game had grown accustomed to a high level of play, and the sight of former MLB players from Yankees past, had to adjust to an increase in ticket sales, expensive parking in a new parking garage and a league that had lost half a dozen teams in four years. There was seemingly no demand for the product anymore. The market had been turned off then to top it off when Doug and Danielle took over the team they had great intensions and they were honest and Danielle was hard working. However the novelty soon turned from minor league professional baseball to just about everything and anything else. What used to be the front office of a beautiful ballpark was transformed into a Medical Office for one of the owners, the ballpark was rarely updated or taken care of despite extremely low rent, and the annual attempt at reality TV took precedent over production of a quality organization. Then there was the bankruptcy court issue, then the Justin Bieber scandal, then the damage from Hurricane Sandy and the continued fall of the Can-Am League, how could anyone expect them to succeed?

    However, there are talks of the City taking over the lease and using the ballpark for non-baseball related events. It is sad but for anyone to go in there and produce baseball as the Newark Bears the cost would not be worth it. A) you would have to I am sure purchase the rights to the Newark Bears intellectual property, which I am sure all thought defunct, they will not part with cheap; then B) after the liquidation sale it would cost an arm and a leg to stock up the necessary equipment, repair damages and equip the concessions booths that have been stripped; lastly C) League Membership. The Atlantic League has already written off the Newark market, and the Can-Am League isn’t viable for a market like Newark, people won’t travel out of their way for Collegiate baseball and Affiliated baseball would never get approval in Newark.

    So that is my take on it, it is sad when a beautiful ballpark is neither embraced by the community nor its former ownership groups, but the hard facts are this is a business and when a business is no longer viable one must cut their losses and liquidate which is what they did. Hats off to them for trying for as long as they did I would have told them to run the moment they lost their membership in the Atlantic League.

  3. John Dittrichs

    Why did Rick Cerone get out? It was doing well and it is his hometown. Can he be the hero and revive it ?

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