Start-Up ECBL Eyes OOB

East Coast Baseball LeagueThe owner of a fledgling East Coat Baseball League based in Canada is interested in bringing a team to Old Orchard Beach (ME) to play next summer at The Ballpark, after the summer collegiate Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide (Futures Collegiate Baseball League) were sold and moved to Bristol (CT).  Read more here.  Thanks to John Cerone for the link.

29 Comments

Filed under League & Franchise, Market & Location

29 responses to “Start-Up ECBL Eyes OOB

  1. ballparkbiz

    Please do not post full articles from news sources in the comments section of this site. It is copyright infringement. Thank you.

    Alan

    • E A

      Wasn’t aware of that. Thought since I gave credit to the source it was okay.

      • ballparkbiz

        Nope. Post a link if you want. Thanks.

        Alan

      • tenaciouspuma

        Interesting article though. I think if the ECBL was serious about their product…and I still am VERY skeptical that is can work, they should take a year to plan, organize, recruit, sell, etc.. and start up in 2016. This type of start up has not had a good history of success and the players they will get will the bottom of the bottom. But, I wish them success, just don’t see it.

  2. The Answer

    MRPBL is not necessarily as amateur as you’d think. The fields may be horrible for professional ball but players are getting a good minimum salary more than double the pecos league and also plenty of ex-affiliated talent is being signed to the league. Oh an Andrew Dunn isn’t running the show, so it seems to progress at a much faster rate. I do not think it is the cream of the crop as far as independent ball goes, but if it gives players such as myself a chance to progress or continue on in baseball, don’t go calling it adult amateur baseball because its not at all. Are the fields amateur, yes. Would the teams in this league smoke any amateur team in men’s league baseball? I’d put my money on the MRPBL team. Give it a chance like I have and you may be surprised like I’ve been by the operation.

  3. tenaciouspuma

    Texas, I believe you. Some bus companies aren’t licensed to cross borders as well. I just think any league that wants to succeed, can’t basically start up in January, with nothing really in place and play in June. And, without local ownership minus the possibility of one team, this is a recipe for disaster. Corporate dollars will not support this league. Teams are very independent in their areas of sponsors…I have been in the indy business, tough tough sell.

  4. Indy V

    Off topic, but I checked your comment regarding the 1,500 mark in the Frontier League. Of the bottom five teams in that league, four of those markets once drew well over 2,000/game. What factors went into the decine of those team’s attendance figures?

  5. Eric

    I wish the ECBL the best of luck, but why would you eye OOB? You would be better off starting from scratch at building a generic baseball stadium in Cornwall, Kingston,or Guelph, Ontario. Newburgh and Watertown should join the NYCBL or PGCBL, Waterloo and Welland should become franchises in the IBL in Canada.

    • eastfirst107

      Yes, because it’s that easy to just snap your fingers and get this “generic baseball stadium” magically built in Cornwall, Kingston or Guelph.

      Building ballparks takes a lot of time and money, which the ECBL has neither of. They’re eyeing OOB because there’s a usable, now-vacant ballpark there — and despite the failures of 2 summer college clubs, they think they’re so much smarter that they can make a go of it in independent ball. We’ll see.

      Also, Watertown was in the PGCBL until a couple of months ago, and the NYCBL before that.

      • tenaciouspuma

        Watertown had a good thing in those college leagues, it appears to be a bit more political and since no one else wanted to be there, voila…here comes the ECBL. Eastfirst is right though, it comes down to facilities and that’s all those places have. It seems some places are just destined to lose at baseball. Watertown may be one of them.

    • jay

      I think part of he issue with the Ibl is they only play 36 games and its hard to attract playes and fans.

      • E A

        The IBL is an amateur league which has been around since 1919. I believe it’s either the oldest or one of the oldest leagues in Canada. Is sometime known as a “working man’s league” as most of the players have jobs. In the summertime when school in out, players do come & play in the league. No problems attracting players from what I can see (and I have been following the league for over 30 years). Crowds have gone up over the past few years as people are realizing it’s a good product at an affordable price.

    • E A

      Waterloo Tigers were already in the IBL from 2000 -2003. They played out of Bechtel Park.

  6. tenaciouspuma

    I hate to be this way, but, this looks like a classic independent ball hit and run set up. Distance is a HUGE issue for league’s nowadays. Usually, if a team is leaving a ballpark there is a reason for it. I hope that these markets know EXACTLY what they are getting into if the long term success of those places are what they truly feel. If all they want is someone to burn $$ to pay a lease or whatnot, then all the power to them. And, this league has yet to sign one player, even the Pecos league has rosters up.

    • eastfirst107

      Meh…the ECBL has scads of other issues, but distance isn’t really one of them. What Northeasterners regard as a “huge distance” is usually a lot less than what people in other parts of the country think of it to be.

      Those driving times are pretty much in line with what Can-Am and Frontier League teams deal with (and are much less than distances between American Association clubs).

      • tenaciouspuma

        I hear you eastfirst, I am just looking for possible rivalries, anything to boost what will be a pretty weak product. I can’t imagine the border issues being all that bad but I just don’t see anything here that makes me believe it will stick.

      • ballparkbiz

        eastfirst107,

        First, 10 hours is 10 hours, no matter what part of the country you play in. Yes, I have driven from D.C. to Boston in eight hours and crossed eight states, and I have spent the same amount of time driving through one state out west (where I am originally from), but the impact on a team or league will be the same.

        Second, I would never shrug off travel expenditures, particularly for a start-up league or team. I have a team down in Texas, and our longest trip is five hours, and it still takes a hefty budget bite. Also, keep in mind the following:

        (1) Established leagues have travel partners and/or divisions to limit travel costs, but right now we are just talking about OOB on an island 10 hours away. I am sure there is a desire to fix that possible challenge, but we haven’t heard about another team yet in that region.

        (2) Teams in established league’s are individually owned, with owners who can (hopefully) subsidize expenditures, if need be. At least initially, it appears teams in the ECBL will be league-owned. 4-8 budgets are a lot to subsidize if things don’t go well. I can assure you, travel will not be a throwaway budget item. They will have to watch and manage their travel expenditures very closely.

        (3) Except for Sioux City and Grand Prairie in the AA, all teams in the AA, Can-Am and Frontier are cracking the 1,500 per game average attendance mark, and many are hitting attendance levels far above that number. I don’t expect the ECBL to come close to hitting those marks, particularly in OOB. Yes, travel will matter to the ECBL’s bottom line.

        Alan

      • eastfirst107

        Alan,
        The point is, if OOB were a decent market and the ECBL knew what it was doing, those distances aren’t insurmountable. However, with neither of those seeming to be the case, you’re right, travel costs will be one of many items eating into the club’s very limited budget.

        If you’re running things on a typical independent club’s budget, the cost difference in sending a team on a 4-hour trip vs. a 7-hour trip isn’t that huge. For college clubs, yes, travel is a larger percentage of expenses.

        Also, “Established leagues have travel partners and/or divisions to limit travel cost” – not really. Laredo is 450 miles from its nearest opponent, and Quebec spent 14 years being 7-10 hours from everyone else before Trois-Rivieres came in the league. Traverse City is a hike from the rest of the Frontier League, as well.

        Those clubs and leagues have the strength to handle those distances. The ECBL doesn’t appear to. “Distance from OOB to other clubs” will certainly add to their problems…but the league’s success or failure doesn’t hinge on it.

      • ballparkbiz

        colin Cummins:

        First, I don’t recall anywhere where I attacked your finances. I don’t know anything about them. My specific comments were related to the Old Orchard Beach market and travel. I encourage you to please re-read my comments and understand exactly what I had to say. If you have the money (your own or from investors) to subsidize travel or other expenses to keep the league and teams operating if things don’t go to plan, good for you.

        I stand by my belief that Old Orchard Beach is not a viable professional market. I have worked in Portland and have spent lot of time in Maine. I am very aware of the realities there. Whether OOB is a baseball town or not isn’t “overly” relevant. Yes, that’s great to have a strong baseball base of support, but you better put on a show of the century every night to attract the non-baseball fans. It’s a resort town, and you will need a lot more non-baseball fans (including those Massachusetts vacationers who would rather see a Red Sox affiliate) to fill the stands to make a go of it, unless the operation is heavily subsidized or you’re going to operate it like a Pecos League-, Mount Rainier Professional Baseball League-style adult amateur league.

        As you know, Portland is a mere 16 miles away. Hardcore baseball fans will be looking for the highest quality baseball possible, and that will be the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. Non-baseball fans will be looking for the best experience, and that will be at modern Hadlock Field. The summer collegiate Raging Tide averaged a “reported” 500-600 per game the last three seasons. Unless the ECBL is planning to invest heavily in the ballpark (directly or through the locals) and investing heavily to “put on a show,” I don’t “expect” the ECBL to do much better.

        Second, you say you are here for the “communities” and the “players.” Well, the comments I have made over the past two decades are because of my concern for communities, fans, advertiser, vendors, players, and everyone else who has a stake in a new baseball venture. Since 1993, there has been a trail of destruction caused by failed leagues and teams. That said, I continue to raise red flags or concerns when I see them. I have been called a lot of things because of this, but my purpose is pure.

        Regarding Old Orchard Beach, I think, with a lot of work and money, it is a viable summer collegiate market. My primary concern here is if the ECBL comes in and folds, that will be the end of baseball there forever. If there is another failure, I could see the city selling off the baseball stadium property to a developer, who would then level The Ballpark. The city would have the political cover they need, because they tried baseball three times, and it failed.

        eastfirst107:

        Indeed, not every team in the established indy leagues has a travel partner, but keep in mind that Laredo, Traverse City and Quebec in 2014 averaged 2,651, 3,121, and 2,888 per game in attendance, respectively, and both Laredo and Traverse City are playing in new ballparks. None of the ballparks in the ECBL, so far, compare to Quebec’s Le Stade Municipal. They also have individual ownership. Be careful about comparing apples and oranges here.

        Finally, I never said the league’s success or failure would hinge on travel expenditures. You shrugged it off as a non-factor with the comment below:

        “Meh…the ECBL has scads of other issues, but distance isn’t really one of them .”

        Thanks, gentlemen, for the back and forth. I really miss having the time to engage in baseball business discussions.

        Alan

      • texas10

        Tenacious, the border issues are worse than you may think. I know of some Frontier League teams who had to get hotel rooms for a couple of non-US players on the US side because they couldn’t get them across the border. That was in 2011 during the half season that the London Rippers were in the league. Perhaps things have changed since then but it was a real issue back then.

    • eastfirst107

      I know we’re driving this into the ground, so I’ll let it rest after this, but I think the fact that I said “Those clubs and leagues have the strength to handle those distances. The ECBL doesn’t appear to” makes it clear I know I’m “comparing apples and oranges.”

      As far as travel, I’ll re-phrase (and you and I may differ on how large an issue this is) – I’d argue that the ECBL has so many other serious, fundamental problems that OOB’s distance from other clubs ranks very low on their list of issues.

      Anyway, thanks for fighting the good fight and keeping an eye on things.

      • ballparkbiz

        eastfirst197:

        There is some element of addiction on my part in driving a discussion into the ground. It’s one of my faults. Fortunately or unfortunately, time (the lack thereof) has quelled my engagement over the past few years.

        Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year to all!

        Best,

        Alan

  7. Shift Slugger

    Why did the Guides leave? Was it an attendance issue? It would be great to get a MiLB team there again.

    • ballparkbiz

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maine_Guides

      Also, the ballpark was built at the worst time possible from a design era standpoint. The boring, cold, ugly, concrete monoliths of the time quickly became outdated.

      Affiliated ball will never return to OOB. The Ballpark is nowhere near up to par, and the highly successful Double-A Portland Sea Dogs are just down the road.

      Summer collegiate ball is the best fit for the market, but the stadium presents a huge intimacy problem with 6,000 seats. The ECBL shouldn’t expect to do any better than the Raging Tide, and my prediction is that a team would burn a deep flaming hole in the circuit’s pocket if they go there.

      Alan

  8. ballparkbiz

    Below are the distances between Old Orchard Beach (ME) and the other announced teams in the league:

    Newburgh (NY) – 4.75 Hours
    Watertown (NY) – 6.75 Hours
    Welland (ON) – 8.75 Hours
    Waterloo (ON) – 10 Hours

    Alan

    • Guys,

      Nothing is etched in stone. ALan, your distances are corrected. I once rode a bus from Evansville, Indiana to Johnstown, PA. Pretty long ride! Before I sent my request to OOB. I did my homework on distances and I understand that cost and expenditures that would be associated. No contract has been signed….yet! We are currently talking. I understand that Portland is just miles away. I understand the stadium isn’t what it used to be. But it’s a baseball community. As low as the numbers are or have been it’s a baseball community and so are the outlying towns.

      Unless you guys live with me or are my partner. How do you know, what my bank is? Or who we don’t or do have backing us.

      Do you know what the plan is or are you just going off of what you see and hear?

      You guys have been around baseball for a long time and have critiqued it, as well. So I have some work to do to show you, that this hit and run league is for real. But I’m not here for you. I’m here for the communities, we are in, the players, who will play in the ECBL .

      • Btw you can email me at ccummins@niagaraprobaseball.com or call me at 18888000887 X 3 anytime.

        Call me stupid, foolish or whatever. I’m gonna be right here.

      • ballparkbiz

        colin Cummins:

        First, I don’t recall anywhere where I attacked your finances. I don’t know anything about them. My specific comments were related to the Old Orchard Beach market and travel. I encourage you to please re-read my comments and understand exactly what I had to say. If you have the money (your own or from investors) to subsidize travel or other expenses to keep the league and teams operating if things don’t go to plan, good for you.

        I stand by my belief that Old Orchard Beach is not a viable professional market. I have worked in Portland and have spent lot of time in Maine. I am very aware of the realities there. Whether OOB is a baseball town or not isn’t “overly” relevant. Yes, that’s great to have a strong baseball base of support, but you better put on a show of the century every night to attract the non-baseball fans. It’s a resort town, and you will need a lot more non-baseball fans (including those Massachusetts vacationers who would rather see a Red Sox affiliate) to fill the stands to make a go of it, unless the operation is heavily subsidized or you’re going to operate it like a Pecos League-, Mount Rainier Professional Baseball League-style adult amateur league.

        As you know, Portland is a mere 16 miles away. Hardcore baseball fans will be looking for the highest quality baseball possible, and that will be the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. Non-baseball fans will be looking for the best experience, and that will be at modern Hadlock Field. The summer collegiate Raging Tide averaged a “reported” 500-600 per game the last three seasons. Unless the ECBL is planning to invest heavily in the ballpark (directly or through the locals) and investing heavily to “put on a show,” I don’t “expect” the ECBL to do much better.

        Second, you say you are here for the “communities” and the “players.” Well, the comments I have made over the past two decades are because of my concern for communities, fans, advertisers, vendors, players, and everyone else who has a stake in a new baseball venture. Since 1993, there has been a trail of destruction caused by failed leagues and teams. That said, I continue to raise red flags or concerns when I see them. I have been called a lot of things because of this, but my purpose is pure.

        Regarding Old Orchard Beach, I think, with a lot of work and money, it is a viable summer collegiate market. My primary concern here is if the ECBL comes in and folds, that will be the end of baseball there forever. If there is another failure, I could see the city selling off the baseball stadium property to a developer, who would then level The Ballpark. The city would have the political cover they need, because they tried baseball three times, and it failed.

        eastfirst107:

        Indeed, not every team in the established indy leagues has a travel partner, but keep in mind that Laredo, Traverse City and Quebec in 2014 averaged 2,651, 3,121, and 2,888 per game in attendance, respectively, and both Laredo and Traverse City are playing in new ballparks. None of the ballparks in the ECBL, so far, compare to Quebec’s Le Stade Municipal. They also have individual ownership. Be careful about comparing apples and oranges here.

        Finally, I never said the league’s success or failure would hinge on travel expenditures. You shrugged it off as a non-factor with the comment below:

        “Meh…the ECBL has scads of other issues, but distance isn’t really one of them .”

        Thanks, gentlemen, for the back and forth. I really miss having the time to engage in baseball business discussions.

        Alan

      • tenaciouspuma

        And, now the league spokesperson is engaging in an online argument with the one person who gives his fledgling organization some press….Yikes

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