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.
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.