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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Flyers owners awarded Palm Springs rights

The ownership group that operates the GBL's Orange County Flyers is apparently looking to expand. The group was awarded the rights to a franchise in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, according to the GBL's latest press release. While the press release does not specifically mention the Orange County Flyers, it does say that the group has owned other minor league teams, including a GBL team that has employed Phil Nevin, Gary Carter, and Garry Templeton -- ladies and gentlemen, the OC Flyers managers of the last five years.

There is no specific timeline for putting a team in Palm Springs. It could be as early as this upcoming 2010 season or perhaps delayed until 2011. If they do play in 2010, it would bring the GBL back to 10 teams after the recent news of St. George folding. This could make for a six-team South Division in the GBL, as the press release says the Palm Springs club would join OC, Long Beach, Tucson, Yuma and Maui in the South Division. That leaves a North Division that currently holds Calgary, Edmonton and Victoria up in Canada to go along with Chico.

One thing to keep in mind is that this doesn't say there will be a franchise in Palm Springs. The group has merely been granted the rights to a team in the area. As I understand it, the Flyers ownership group also has the rights to the entire County of Orange as well. Just because you have the rights to put a team somewhere doesn't make it automatic. Here's to hoping they are operational for 2010 to even out the absence of the RoadRunners.

Here's the official release from the GBL:

GBL Grants Operating Rights to Palm Springs Group
Experienced Team Operators Acquire Rights to Bring Professional Baseball Back to Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley

The Golden Baseball League (GBL) announced today that they have reached an agreement with Palm Springs Professional Baseball, LLC that grants the rights to operate a professional baseball team in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. This would return professional baseball to the region for the first time since the minor league Palm Spring Suns played in 1997.

"We are pleased to reach an agreement with such an impressive and experienced ownership group," said GBL Commissioner Kevin Outcalt. "The team could play in either 2010 or 2011 depending on what they work out with the City of Palm Springs regarding the ballpark facility, or potentially in a ballpark elsewhere in the Coachella Valley. This is a big win for all parties as the league expands into a great market with outstanding professional baseball history, the City is able to receive an increased and true market value for their stadium lease, the fans will enjoy exciting professional baseball with well known players and managers as teams from all over western North America come to play, and the local economy is the benefit of $5M or more in annual economic impact as has been documented in other GBL markets."

Headed up by a trio of baseball industry executives who have owned minor league teams in the New York - Penn League and the Golden Baseball League, the team will host 45 regular season home games, plus playoffs, in a season that will stretch from mid-May to mid-September. Headed on the field by a Major League All-Star Manager (this group in the past have employed Gary Carter, Phil Nevin, and Garry Templeton) the team should feature the typical GBL mix of 5-6 ex major leaguers along with minor league experienced players and a few college graduates at a level of play that is rated at or above AA by experienced minor league baseball operators. Considered the premier independent pro league in western North America and one of the top in the country, the GBL regularly has 20 -30 players purchased by major league baseball and is the annual leader in Top Prospects and All-Independent Pro All-Stars as selected by Baseball America. Major League MVP and All-Stars such as Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, Jose Lima, Robert Fick, Scott Spiezio, Junior Spivey, and Felix Jose have all played in the league. Four GBL alumni have already made it to the major leagues.

The Palm Springs team would play in the South Division of the GBL which includes the Tucson Toros, the Orange County Flyers, the Long Beach Armada, the Yuma Scorpions and the Maui ballclubs at this time.

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