More on the Future of Skylands Park

As ballpark owner/operator Millenium Sports Management continues to search for a new tenant for Skylands Park after the demise of the Can-Am League’s Sussex (Augusta, NJ) Skyhawks, there is concern in Frankford Township about future property tax revenues, should things truly go south for the 17-year-old stadium.

As it stands now, there is already a $31,0oo lien on the ballpark property for unpaid fourth quarter 2010 property taxes, which the township is trying to sell to an investor.  Millenium pays a whopping $121,500 annually in property taxes for the ballpark and surrounding 28-acres it owns.  According to tax records, the property is assessed at $6.7 million.  Read more here.

Finding a new, quality tenant for Skylands will likely not be an easy task for Millenium, despite reports that there are affiliated and indy pro suitors interested.  On its face, the Single-A New York-Penn League and indy pro Can-Am League would appear to be the most likely candidates.  But, according to our annual attendance Mega-Rankings, the #193 Sussex Skyhawks (1,670 fans per game) provide a less-than-promising attendance indicator for New York-Penn League cellar dwellers #252 Batavia Muckdogs (1,016), #229 Jamestown Jammers (1,213), #209 Connecticut Tigers (1,485), and #203 Auburn Doubledays (1,535).  In addition, the Muckdogs, while in trouble, have locked in one more year at Dwyer Stadium with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings at the club’s management helm, and the Connecticut Tigers are playing at Dodd Stadium, the former Double-A park in Norwich.  That said, we think it’s unlikely that a New York-Penn League club will be playing at Skylands in 2011.  Even if a team like the Muckdogs or Jammers were to relocate to Skylands, we believe it would be a temporary move, until the owner secured a new ballpark in a more lucrative market.

Placing another Can-Am League team at Skylands is certainly possible, if the #277 Pittsfield Colonials (702) decided to ditch Wahconah Park after a terrible first year at the gate, or a new Can-Am League team owner decided to step up to the plate.  At this point, however, we’ve heard no speculation about the Colonials moving this year, and any wannabe Can-Am League team owner could have simply purchased the Skyhawks.  We think a Can-Am League scenario is unlikely, at least for 2011.

We think the best situation for Skylands Park would be a strong, minor league-like summer collegiate tenant, which could provide stability and longevity at the stadium, if a less onerous lease deal could be worked out.  In fact, Millenium should take this idea a big step further and consider buying their own summer collegiate club and running it themselves.

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Filed under League & Franchise, Legal, Money & Financials, Stadium Issues

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