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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Batavia Muckdogs sign 2011 stadium lease

Will 2011 be the last year professional baseball is played in Batavia, New York’s Dwyer Stadium?

The Batavia Muckdogs, the St. Louis Cardinals’ short-season class A affiliate, officially have a 2011 home. It is the same as the old one. A one-year lease has been approved by the Batavia City Council for the use of the town-owned Dwyer Stadium, reports The Batavian.

The facility has undergone minor improvements during the off-season at the demand of the New York-Penn League, unhappy with the condition of the field and locker rooms. The combination of the older ballpark and poor attendance has helped to generate a long stretch of red ink for the franchise, owned by the Genesee County Baseball Club.

An extension of the business management agreement for the Muckdogs this coming season was announced in October by Rochester Community Baseball, owners of the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings.

The Rochester group accrues a five percent ownership stake in the Muckdogs each year of their operation with 2011 being their fourth season in charge. Officially for sale since last August, the Muckdogs may be worth as much as $5 million or more, reported the Batavia Daily News.

Without naming names, a follow-on story to the lease signing news in Ballpark Digest noted that there are definitely parties interested in purchasing the franchise, most likely with intent to relocate starting in 2012.

“That 2011 is a season of treading water for the Muckdogs is not up for debate: the team’s future clearly is not in Batavia, and we know of potential owners on the horizon,” the article divulged.

For their part, the Cardinals have supplied competitive teams including a league champion in 2008 and a playoff club in 2010. This past fall, St. Louis signed a two-year Player Development Contract to remain paired with the Batavia franchise.

If the team moves for 2012, the Cardinals would most likely follow, at least for the first season. A similar situation occurred in 2006 when the New Jersey Cardinals were sold. The new ownership group relocated the franchise to State College, PA. St. Louis honored the final year of the contract before State College chose to align with Pittsburgh instead. The Cardinals moved their affiliation to Batavia starting in 2007. The Muckdogs’ previous partners, the Philadelphia Phillies, had left Batavia just prior.

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