The Binghamton Redbirds?
Several dominoes would need to fall for the St. Louis Cardinals’ New York-Penn League affiliate to end up in Binghamton, NY in 2013, but it could happen.
The story begins with a group in Ottawa, Canada having received encouragement to pursue membership in the Double-A Eastern League.
“All signs indicate Ottawa would become the new home of the Eastern League franchise currently in Binghamton, New York,” the Ottawa Citizen reported recently.
Ballpark Digest noted the same, stating the Ottawa group had been in serious negotiations to buy the Binghamton club and move it north. The club would become the Toronto Blue Jays’ Double-A affiliate.
It gets even more interesting from there.
Based on conversations with “several MiLB team owners and brokers with knowledge of sales discussions,” Ballpark Digest suggests a second move could then be in the offing.
The scenario is that the Binghamton group, currently affiliated with the New York Mets, would remain in organized baseball and honor their stadium lease commitment currently running through 2016. The vehicle would be to drop down from Double-A to the short-season Class-A NYPL by purchasing the for-sale Batavia Muckdogs.
Batavia is heading into its sixth season affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals. The club is always among the bottom dwellers of the NYPL in attendance, the physical facilities are less than state of the art and the franchise has perennially lost money.
Placed on the market by its local ownership well over a year ago, the Muckdogs are estimated by Ballpark Digest to be worth $5 million, about $7 million less than selling the Eastern League franchise might net. The Muckdogs would then be moved to Binghamton starting in 2013 with the new owners making a tidy profit from the sequence of moves, goes the storyline.
Not surprisingly, B-Mets ownership denies the rumors. After all, they must remain focused on their knitting – selling tickets to the 2012 EL season – at least publicly. Even if the moving plans are true, announcing a lame duck summer would hardly accomplish anything positive for fan interest.
The Cardinals player development contract with the Muckdogs franchise runs through the 2012 season, same as the Mets’ agreement with Binghamton. While the Cardinals’ NYPL affiliation has shifted homes twice since 2005, from New Jersey to State College to Batavia, the organization previously expressed a desire to remain in the NYPL over the long haul.
The open question seems to be their 2013 location. Stay tuned to see if this story develops further over the upcoming months.