I Coulda Owned The Newark Bears

The Newark Bears have sold for $100,000.   I think I could scrape up that much cash if I had to.   The bad news is the new owner assumes $1 million in liabilities.  I can’t float that, but it does make them more honorable than the Devils who refuse to pay their rent.

I hope I’m wrong but I still think Newark is a tough place to sell.   If I’m going to an Atlantic League game I’m hitting the Ducks or Patriots.

Speaking of the Bears, Mets Police send some love back to the Star-Ledger who printed us in the actual newspaper!  Here’s the e-version but we were in the actual newspaper (see below)!   Also a shout out to Metsblog who linked us thus we got a ton of hits.  Thanks!  (Now walk down the hall and get Mazzilli rehired).

On a Sunday afternoon in late September, the Newark Bears took the field and got pummeled by the Somerset Patriots 14-8.

Was that season-ending game, played in a half-filled Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark, the team’s last?

The minor league baseball team filed for bankruptcy protection last week, just a decade after bringing baseball back to New Jersey’s largest city. Despite millions in public funds invested in a new stadium, public transportation and parking facilities in downtown Newark, team owner Marc Berson said the Bears never caught on with fans.

Last season the team averaged 2,746 fans a game, the second lowest in the independent Atlantic League. The team is now $4.6 million in debt, Berson said.

But a buyer may be willing to take another chance on the team. The Bases Loaded Group is offering to pay $100,000 and take on the team’s debts. A bankruptcy judge is scheduled to review the offer tomorrow.

While the 2009 season remains in jeopardy, the state’s bloggers have been analyzing the Bears’ decline. Did the team fail because suburban crowds won’t venture into Newark? Is the economy too soft to support independent minor league baseball? Was the city’s 6,200-seat stadium project too ambitious?

Is it naive to think a team can ever revive the spirit that made Newark one of the nation’s great minor league baseball cities in the 1930s and ’40s?

From The Mets Police:

The Newark Bears are filing for bankruptcy. Why? They’re in Newark.

I like the Atlantic League. Hit a Long Island Ducks game sometime, it’s tons of fun. In fact you pull into a big, giant free parking lot and walk ten feet into a park that still feels brand new. The game is less important than the fun between innings. Kids have a ball.

Meanwhile, in Newark you get to drive to a crowded aging still scary city (sorry Corey). There’s a tiered lot– everyone loves those. Sure you’re encouraged to take mass transit. The NJ Transit system is horrible enough at rush hour. You want to wait 59 minutes for a train if you don’t time things right?

Meanwhile, a few blocks away the Devils have announced they don’t want to pay the rent. That’s what Newark gets for building this new unnecessary arena. You know that $2.1 million the Devils were going to pay? Psyche!

A few miles up the road an unnecessary football stadium is being built– with no rail link. There’s a giant parking lot sitting there day after day but no rail link to New York City.

The Giants get their blood money in personal seat licenses. The Devils get their fancy new building on which they don’t pay rent.

As for the Bears– sorry, nobody cared. Good try.

From Cranford Pundit:

Here are some suggestions on what Newark can do to woo the suburbanites who are still too scared to come:

For public events, a visible police presence– such as for Newark Bears games. People want to feel safe even if they leave in the fifth inning.

Why do you think the Somerset Patriots are the team of choice for people in our area? Essex and Union County residents have options . . . and driving 30 minutes to an area where we feel safe will often trump driving 15 minutes to somewhere we do not.

From Chuck King, blogging at Minor League Dugout:

Newark made national news early in their existence by signing the likes of Rickey Henderson and Jose Canseco. The Bears have been far less flashy of late and apparently that has not helped . . .

The good news for the Atlantic League is that their newer clubs in Lancaster, York and Southern Maryland appear to be doing well. Earlier this season Atlantic League commissioner Joe Klein optimistically talked about doubling the size of the eight-team league in the coming years. With the economy seemingly on a downturn, Klein’s hopes may have been too grand.

It is unclear as of now whether the Atlantic League will try to find another owner for a Newark club, or will perhaps have to bring back the homeless Road Warriors for another season.

For the past decade the Atlantic League has served as model for other independent leagues to follow. They’ve lost teams (Nashua and Atlantic City) before and continued to grow.

Hopefully this simply serves as another small bump in the road, but for fans of independent baseball this certainly bears watching.

From Tom Biro, blogging at Baristanet:

Over the years, it’s typically been pretty easy to walk up on game day and buy a pretty darn good seat (not that there’s really a bad one in the house), but that lies at the core of what the problem is. While it is probably nice to walk up with your significant other (as I did earlier this year, getting second row tickets behind the visiting team’s bench) or your kids, it doesn’t push much desire for people to buy a block of ten tickets, or season tickets, even.

Obviously, some people have chosen to throw the “white people in Newark” statement into the fray, which only makes matters worse. But there’s obviously a bigger issue of anyone purchasing tickets to see the Bears on a regular basis, irrelevant of race.

All that said, having the Bears in town is definitely part of making Newark a better place for everyone– whether it be those who live there, those who work there, or those who like to dine or be entertained. Isn’t it?

From Joe McDonald, blogging at New York Sports Report:

With an empty stadium comes opportunity and another league may come in to Newark. The Can-Am League– where former Atlantic League teams, the Atlantic City Surf and Nashua Pride, found homes– may be interested in fielding a team. A deal will have to be made with Essex County and Berson, who still owns the rights to the stadium.

As for the Atlantic League, the Bear move won’t hurt the league in the long run. Over the past few seasons, it has been shedding its weaker teams in favor of expansion in stronger markets . . .

The biggest losers in this whole debacle are the full-time Bear employees who will be forced to find jobs in a very tough economic environment.

Just remember it’s still very early in the off-season, so there is still time to resolve this situation and have some sort of professional baseball in Newark for the 2009 season.

From Paul, blogging at Paul’s Random Stuff :

Will there be Bears baseball in Newark in 2009?

Maybe . . .

If a bankruptcy court signs off on the deal, there will be baseball in Newark next year.

However, the 2009 edition of the Bears will probably have a very different look than the fans have seen in the past few years. Former Montreal Expos star (and one-time Yankee) Tim Raines could be the team’s manager next year, replacing popular and successful skipper Wayne Krenchicki — who only won the Atlantic League title in 2007 and came close to defending the title last year.

From a marketing point of view, I understand the reasoning . . . but that doesn’t mean I like it.

Still, this is good news . . . even if it is a little sad at the same time.

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