New Jersey’s Failed Baseball Venture

abandoned stadiums abound



The Baseball Winter Meetings will be held in Orlando. These meetings include an audition platform for acts. People who are shot out of cannons try to convince minor league baseball operators that people will come to a game to watch a person shot out of a cannon. There are other oddball talents on display. There are minor league owners who are outside the Major League-Minor League agreement who won’t be there. A 1990 agreement between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball mandated that all of the then 26 teams’ minor league affiliates had to play in ballparks that met Major League standards or teams would be removed. There were certain cities that refused that Major League Baseball’s demands. Cities had until 1994 to accept the Major League Baseball-ordered standard. Those owners operate in independent leagues which were created after the Major League Baseball shake down cities for new venues. About three dozen leagues have started since 1993, just nine remain. Teams have come and gone.

New Jersey caught independent league fever and decided to get into the game. Local cities decided to construct stadiums and with the hopes that areas would be revitalized with baseball. Newark, Camden and Atlantic City invested taxpayers’ money in stadiums. The Garden State venture has ended up being a costly failure. In Newark, the Bears franchise was not received well and a stadium built for the team in 1999 is going to be demolished. Atlantic City built a 5,500-seat stadium for an independent league team, the Atlantic City Surf but that franchise folded in 2008, the stadium remains but has not been maintained well. Camden’s stadium opened in 2001 and is facing the wrecking ball with no team. Somerset has had success as the team and stadium is still in business. New Jersey should have learned a lesson. A stadium is not an economic generator.