A New York-based developer purchased the site of Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium for #23 million, according to a NJ Advance Media report. The underutilized ballpark, which last hosted professional baseball in 2013, will be demolished to make way for a mixed-use, high-rise tower.
“This property is so significant,” said Baye Adofo-Wilson, the city’s Deputy Mayor for Economic and Housing Development. The stadium “was part of a previous attempt to revitalize the downtown…It didn’t work out. We had to come up with a new idea.”
While I’m sad to see the wrecking ball come for a place where I have happy memories, the City of Newark will undoubtedly benefit more from the property being put to more productive use.
When everything from Newark Bears jerseys to mascot costume heads was sold off at auction this spring, it seemed like we’d seen the last of professional baseball in Newark.
The Bergen Record reported yesterday that someone thinks baseball could still work in Newark. And if you’ve ever bought one of those “As Seen On TV” products, maybe you shouldn’t dismiss the idea out of hand.
“As I get older, like most people, you start to think about their legacy and what they’re going to do with the money they’ve accumulated,” Telebrands founder A.J. Khubani told the Record. “I’m a Jersey boy,” he said. “I love this state. The goal is to bring that team back and support it. It’s something that’s good for the state.”
Doug Spiel says he has finally found someone to buy the Newark Bears’ team bus. Now he can motor ahead to the next chapter of his life, which also includes baseball, but at a much smaller price.
Newark and Essex County share more than $2 million in annual debt obligations on the park until 2029, so they can’t afford to let the place sit. They need to attract a team, and management, with drawing and staying power.
We’re one month into the Major League Baseball season, and the New York Mets have a 16-14 record and are just a game out of first place in the National League East. Only the most wildly optimistic fans expected the Mets to be competitive this year, but so far they are.
Will it last? Probably not, but let’s enjoy it while we can. The early success has been based on great starting pitching, just enough hitting and a bullpen that hasn’t blown up too often even though the Mets are already on their third closer of the season. That doesn’t seem sustainable over the long haul, but stranger things have happened.
I’ve made it to three games at Citi Field so far, and the Mets have a 1-2 record in them. I’m planning to go to one more, so maybe they can get back to .500 when I’m watching.
I can’t say I’m thrilled about the team’s latest marketing campaign that seems to suggest that only “true New Yorkers” can be real Mets fans, though.
I’ve also been to a couple of Trenton Thunder games. The New York Yankees’ Double-A farm team looks like it could be good again this year – they are off to a 19-11 start. The Yankees’ two top prospects — catcher Gary Sanchez and outfielder Mason Williams — are both in Trenton to start the year. I’ve been impressed with Sanchez’s bat, but then again, I remember Jesus Montero in Double-A and how his major league career has turned out.
One place I won’t be going to watch baseball anymore is Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark. I spent a couple of hours at the Newark Bears’ liquidation auction last month, and came home with a 2012-2013 home jersey last issued to Mike Gedman for $12.31.
I will cherish the memories of good times I had at that ballpark and the friends I have made their over the years, but all good things come to an end.
I’m not quite ready to bring this blog to an end, though I will be surprised if I have many readers left at this point.
I am writing about the Mets at HotStoveMLB.com, so you can read what I have to say about on-field issues there.
I will still write about baseball cards and collectibles here, and while finances are severely limiting my ability to add to my collection, I do have a couple of cool things that I want to show you over the next few days.
I should have a review of Out of the Park Baseball 15 posted here in the near future.
You can find me on Twitter, Instagram and Flickr, which will all probably be updated more frequently than this blog.
Your turn (feel free to answer any or all):
What’s the biggest surprise of the 2014 baseball season?
What’s the coolest minor league promotion you’ve seen this year?
What’s your favorite baseball card of 2014 (so far)?
Happy new year! I hope that 2014 is filled with blessings for all of us.
Google Alerts turned up a mention of a Newsroom New Jersey article by Joe Favorito from last week on “The Business of Baseball in N.J.”, focusing specifically on the Newark Bears.
While the Bears’ struggles are Favorito’s focus (and he doesn’t spend nearly enough time talking about the challenges of operating in a city that had a 14.2% unemployment rate as of August and saw a 23-year high of 111 homicides in 2013), he touches on a more interesting question: how many minor league baseball teams can the New York metropolitan area really support?
However the expansive growth of digital marketing [by Major League franchises extending their reach] combined with the fight for discretionary income, may mean that although we would like to have 13 vibrant and fun minor league teams in a certain geographic area, maybe there is not the need to run these high functioning and somewhat expensive businesses at this time. Maybe the market is 10 or 11, not 12 or 13 or even 14, and maybe those dollars, if there is a sports business interest, can go into better marketing of local colleges or even high schools or youth sports, who also have some seats to fill with affordable and fun entertainment.
To all… As previously posted, the Newark Bears are undergoing redevelopment phases, ultimately creating a stronger organization. Part of these plans were to evaluate the right league affiliation. Although the Bears will not continue their affiliation w the Canam league during the 2014 season, this should not reflect the status or livelihood of our organization. We will release more information upon taking our next steps towards building ur better & stronger Newark Bears Professional Minor League Baseball team. We thank all of our fans and supporters for being so awesome!! Happy Holidays, Your Newark Bears Family
In a classic move of burying bad news, league officials waited until the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to announce that the Can-Am League will operate as a four-team division of the American Association in 2014.
Four teams will make up the Can-Am League in 2014: the Quebec Capitales and Trois-Rivieres Aigles from the province of Quebec; the New Jersey (Montclair) Jackals; and the Rockland Boulders of Pomona, N.Y. The Newark Bears will not operate in 2014.
[Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball commissioner Miles] Wolff commented, “The Can-Am League is extremely pleased to continue its alliance with the American Association. It has been a great rivalry with the teams in the central U.S. and Canada, and we believe it sets the stage for growth of the Can-Am in 2015 and beyond.” The Can-Am League has already announced that Ottawa, Ontario, will join the league in 2015; several other cities are under consideration for inclusion in 2015.
Ever since the Newark Bears dropped out of the Atlantic League, it sort of felt like the writing was on the wall. I’m thankful for friends I made because of the Bears, and many fun nights at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium over the years.
I invite anyone else who enjoyed going to Bears games to share their happy memories, but I don’t want to rehash their failings tonight.