Prospect League Adds CornBelters to 2019 Lineup

PRESS RELEASE – Today marks a momentous occasion in Normal CornBelters baseball history, as the announcement has been made that they will begin play in 2019 as members of the summer collegiate Prospect League. It is also being announced that the Corn Crib is being sold to Corn Crib Associates and that the Normal Prospect League Membership will now be operated by Normal Corn Belters Baseball, including Mr. Rick DeStefane, Mr. Jimmie Louthan and Mr. Matt Stembridge. All three are current members and operators of Prospect League teams in Hannibal, MO and Quincy, Illinois.

Prospect League Commissioner Dennis Bastien enthusiastically spoke of the decision and the growth and upgrading of the league with the addition of the Corn Crib and the Cornbelters. “Words cannot express the thrill and pride by which this announcement is being made. Steve Malliett and I have known each other for several years and we are keenly aware of the professional operation by which the Cornbelters have evolved. To say that they are being welcomed with open arms would be a major understatement. Our league is being elevated by the addition of what might be one of the finest facilities in all of summer collegiate baseball in the Corn Crib. Being a ballpark fan, I have been here several times and have marveled at this ballpark and all of its’ features. Cornbelters fans will be amazed at the quality of play of high level collegiate players we have, as well as building fierce rivalries with identifiable teams in Springfield, Danville, Quincy, plus the rest of the league members. The bonus in all of this is the highly respected new ownership operator group here. Rick, Matt and Jimmie will definitely put their stamp all over this already successful franchise,” Bastien stated.

CEO of Corn Crib and Associates/Cornbelters Baseball Rick DeStefane spoke of the acquisition: “Baseball is here to stay in Normal, Illinois” he said.

A member of the new ownership group, Jimmie Louthan commented: “We strongly believe the passion these athletes will bring to the field everyday will translate into a high energy and exciting atmosphere for the whole family. We look forward to not only building the Corn Belters into a successful baseball team but also making the team and stadium a viable asset for the city and surrounding area.”

Prospect League President and Terre Haute Rex owner/operator Bruce Rosselli proudly spoke in glowing terms of the Cornbelters addition to the PL. ” This transaction with the Cornbelters is a historical moment for our league. I speak for all of our teams when I say, “Welcome Normal fans to the exciting Prospect League”, Rosselli noted.

The Prospect League just completed its’ 10th season and is known for its’ outstanding facilities.

For further information, contact:

Dennis Bastien, Commissioner
The Prospect League

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 84

Elkville, IL 62932


Filed under League & Franchise, Market & Location

8 responses to “Prospect League Adds CornBelters to 2019 Lineup

  1. Been Around

    The summer collegiate roster is growing like crazy, the business model is such that you don’t need millions of dollars every year to operate. You play a few less games than (for instance) the FL, but there are no player salaries, no worker’s comp, no bonuses, flying players in and out, no real player egos to deal with. You can still run the same show as a full-blown minor league team in a summer collegiate setting and really, at that level, the fans just want to see a good ballgame – at least those that care about the actual level of baseball. Most people come out to have a beer and have fun and summer collegiate baseball gives them that at a much lower cost to ownership. Wouldn’t be surprised if many more lower-attendance independent teams take this route if there’s a league that’s geographically appealing.

    • BallparkBiz


      • eastfirst107

        Some truth there, but you’re oversimplifying things. It’s easy to look at it, think you’re just lopping off a bunch of costs by switching from pro to collegiate, and otherwise everything else stays the same. But summer-college is a different business model which requires the same fiscal discipline and hustle that pro ball does – and clubs who are lulled into taking their foot off the gas because of the inital savings can suffer in the long run.

        In reality, it’s a significant hit in revenue. Normal is losing nearly 40% of its home dates, and Traverse City 25%…so it’s more than “a few less games” (and the dates you lose tend to be profitable August ones). You can be sure that your sponsors won’t want to pay the same for a fence sign that’s seen by fans 40% less of the time, either.

        When teams don’t make the transition well and have trouble on the revenue side, they have to start cutting front-office staff and scaling down their game-day presentation — which can be a downward spiral, as fans and sponsors start to notice “it’s not what it used to be” and stay away.

        (But because fixed costs are low, rather than fold as independent teams do, the club can just sort of drift along as a ghostly shell. Take Brockton: at its height in the Can-Am League, it had a dozen full-time employees; now, it has one. And as you might guess, total attendance is down 85% from that time.)

        It seems like clubs who make a “clean break” from their prior teams and re-brand (Worcester, Savannah) have an easier time switching to summer-college than ones who keep the same identity and try to pass themselves off as “same as before” (Brockton, Jamestown). It’ll be interesting to see how Traverse and Normal handle things.

      • BallparkBiz

        Indeed, it’s not that simple. Teams have to do the math, and, no matter what, the owners/front office still have to do the work. I would agree that a “clean break” is the way to go, including the branding AND the ownership, particularly if the pro team has failed to perform at the gate in a larger market where the team previously did well. Brockton is a really good example. Even the summer collegiate team should be cracking the 2,000 – 3,000 mark — not averaging 1,393 . We know summer collegiate teams can do it. Take Worcester, for example. In their last season in 2012, the Can-Am’s Worcester Tornadoes averaged 1,364 a game. In 2018, the Futures League’s Worcester Bravehearts averaged 2,502. It will certainly be interesting to watch Traverse City and Normal in 2019.

  2. Adam Wexler

    There have been other cities that have sent the precedent of leaving independent leagues in favor of college summer leagues all over the country: Elmira, Brockton, Nashua, Pittsfield, and now Normal and Traverse City.

  3. Mark

    River City have problems too, might they also bolt for the PL? What FL teams are rock solid and would no way consider joining a collegiate league?

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