Two Other Leagues Interested in Skylands Park

ACBL LogoNorthern League LogoIt didn’t take long after the sale of Skylands Park in Sussex County (NJ) to real estate investment firm 17 Mile LLC for leagues beyond the pre-sale rumbling from the indy pro Atlantic League (or ABL2) to show interest in playing at the currently vacant facility.  The summer collegiate Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League and newly revived indy pro Northern League are potentially in the mix.  Read more here.


Filed under Lease & Contracts, Stadium Issues

26 responses to “Two Other Leagues Interested in Skylands Park

  1. Johnny regan

    There is a sports column in the new jersey herald, today regarding skylands park. Johnny regan historian of skylands park.

  2. Johnny regan

    There is an article in today Newark star ledger county section regarding skylands park. Johnny regan

  3. Johnny regan

    Alan, go to nj now to see the arrtice regarding the new owner of skylands park. Johnny regan

    • Robert A. Hilliard, founder and former CEO, Skylands Park Management, Inc. and former president of the Redbirds/Cardinals (January 1991-May 1994)

      The Sussex County Colonels of the ACBL averaged 914 fans a game during the team’s three seasons at Skylands Park. Under terms of its lease with Skylands, all expenses were paid by Skylands Park Management, Inc., and all revenues accrued to Skylands. The club was profitable in each of its three seasons. More important than the generation of direct revenue were the indirect benefits: more traffic at the batting cages and increased sales at the sporting goods stores. Similarly, the high school program run by the stadium paid significant financial dividends – double headers involving four schools generated $2,000 in field rental fees plus $1.00 per ticket sold. Participating high schools were given 1,000 tickets @ $5.00 face value just before the Christmas holiday season with $4.00 from each ticket accruing to the selling schools. For each twin bill, the stadium averaged 1,200 paid attendance. Most folks wanted to attend their team’s only game at a professional ballpark. Significant sales were generated at the food & beverage concession stands, in the sporting goods outlet and batting cages. With as many as 60 teams participating, revenues from game-day sales approached $75K during the run-up to the Cardinals season. The strategy resulted in additional customer traffic on other days and, to an admittedly unmeasured degree, contributed to support for the pro franchise. With fans at schools from as far away as Delran, Bordentown, Delaware Valley Regionalo and Hillsborough, exposure well into central Jersey was assured.

      • Johnny regan

        Rob, the northern league, and the acbl is interested in placing a team at skylands park in 2014. Go to regarding the new owner of skylands park. I am also interested in any thing that you have from the Sussex colonels, in case the acbl would call the new team the Sussex skyhawks. Contact me when you get a chance via Facebook or linkin. Johnny baseball regan historian of skyhawks park.

  4. Johnny regan

    The Sussex colonels played at skylands park from 1995 through 1997. The property taxes were cut in half. The colonels also won the 1996 acbl title,and played in the championship game in 1995. I am eager to work with the new ownership and also be on committees to bring 2 leagues to play at skylands park in 2014. Johnny regan

    • ballparkbiz


      That’s true, but how much did they pay to lease the stadium and how well did they do at the gate? You could certainly have an ACBL team playing there to help make a minor difference ($5-$10k) in the nut needed to make it work, but I can’t imagine the team would generate much for revenue playing in the shadow of a professional primary tenant during the summer. That said, I really want to see baseball back at Skylands run by operators who know how to rock the place. I’m crossing my fingers! Good luck!


      • Johnny regan

        Rob Hilliard, who was the visionary behind the creation of skylands park, ran the Sussex colonels ,while head of skylands park management from 1995 through 1996. He left skylands park in October 1996,and ran the colonels independently in 1997, before moving the colonels to jersey city nj in 1998 and 1999. Rob did own the Oakland county cruisers of the frontier league, but could not get financing to build a stadium in Oakland county, Michigan. Rob Hilliard would have the answers to the questions regarding financial issues. Johnny regan

      • ballparkbiz


        I knew some of this, but I didn’t know Hilliard was the man behind the project and headed up the facility management at the time. Thanks!


      • Johnny regan

        There is an article in the new jersey herald today also at about the new owner of skylands park,and his tentative plans for skylands park. Johnny regan

    • Johnny regan

      There is a sports column in the new jersey herald today as well regarding skylands park. Johnny regan

  5. Ken Tater

    @intheknow You raise an excellent point. Who did they buy the rights to the Northern League from?

  6. Edward Roberts

    From what I’ve previously read the new ownership specializes in buying and selling distressed properties so I would assume they want to get the ballpark in running condition with a minimal investment then get a tenant and eventually sell the ballpark. A summer wood bat team would seem to be the option with the least investment required. Plus having a summer team doesn’t preclude eventually having a pro team share the park (like when the park first opened).

    • ballparkbiz

      Yes, a summer collegiate team would require the least investment, but if the annual property taxes are still six figures or even half that, I don’t see how a summer collegiate team is feasible. A summer collegiate team won’t be able to afford a lease high enough to prevent the non-baseball-minded real estate investment firm from sustaining annual losses.

      To be fair, I have suggested that a summer collegiate team would be workable at Skylands, but only if the owner of the ballpark is a sports and entertainment driven promoter with a strong business mind and deep pockets, whereby the owner would own and operate the team, collect all the revenues from that team, and load the park up with other events on non-baseball dates. With the right St. Paul Saints/Madison Mallards-type ownership, it could be done.


  7. in the know

    With all due respect I’m not sure calling the Northern League a League is correct. To have a league you need actual teams. A logo and a a big league front man is not a league.

    • ballparkbiz

      I don’t necessarily disagree, but all start ups have been referred to as leagues, even without teams attached to them yet. That said, while the new version of the Northern League has a name, logo and history to exploit for credibility purposes, there is no confusion here that it’s a start up (from scratch) that has yet to plant a seed.


      • in the know

        They have ZERO to do with the Independent Northern League that blazed the trail for independent baseball and ZERO credibility. You get credibility by actually doing something. But point taken.what else can you call them but a potential startup league. Still wondering how they “bought” the rights to the name Northern League??

      • ballparkbiz

        You’re preaching to the choir here. What I am talking about is credibility with potential markets, investors, sponsors, vendors, etc. who don’t know any better. As far as acquiring the rights to the league (name, logo, business formation, etc.), I don’t know the details, but I would assume all was conveyed by the last man standing (team, owner, league official?) after the circuit collapsed. Maybe it was the Fielders? Maybe it was the commissioner, Clark Griffith? As teams withdrew from the Northern League, they likely abandoned their rights to it.


  8. IndyFan

    I would love to see the Cardinals come back, would make sense if Batavia moved – aren’t they the Cardinals now? Secondly, how could a collegiate league afford that ballpark, I am still puzzled as to how an ownership group that ceased operations twice in Brockton can afford and be permitted to maintain that lease in College ball.

  9. Jason

    In a perfect world, the NYPL would return to Skylands Park, but the Atlantic League would be wise to place a team here. However, this will all mean we need strong ownership and a little TLC to the ballpark, but I am sure that is on the agenda.

  10. Agreed, Alan. I don’t see how the ACBL is a fit here. Big tax bill or not, it seems unlikely that an ACBL team could afford the lease at Skylands.

    I wish the NJ Herald would get their facts straight. The Atlantic League has never dismissed the idea of an ALB2 team being put here. One owner (Kalafer) said it wasn’t going to happen, but does he speak for the whole league ?

  11. ballparkbiz

    Unless the previous or new owners have substantially negotiated down the facility’s six figure annual property tax bill, this is still going to be a tough sell.


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