There has been lots of buzz around Cape Girardeau about the possibility of a Minor League team coming to town. Well it seems as if the Frontier League, whose members include the Southern Illinois Miners and the Gateway Grizzlies, will not be the league coming to Cape. I e-mailed Bill Lee, the Commissioner of the Frontier League, concerning the chances of the Frontier League coming to Cape and what kind of time frame Cape could be looking might expect. Mr. Lee quickly responded with the following:
To be honest, I had Cape on the radar screen about 4 years ago. I met with a couple of local businessmen that had a great interest in getting a club there and a stadium built. I have not heard from them since and I have never spoken to any city officials. I know they really preferred an affiliated club but that is an extreme long shot, sinceis not expanding. Also at this point, based on our By-Laws, the Southern Illinois team would have a say-so as to whether a club would be allowed into their media market.
If everything really got going right now, you could get something done for the 2009 season. However that is a very ambitious timeframe. You are probably more on a 2010 schedule. You have many hurdles, land acquisition, design and construction are just a few. The big problems are how it is funded. Is it public or private? Are their tax dollars involved that will require a referendum? Who is going to own it? How is the ownership structured and funded? Which League fits the market best? Has a feasability study been prepared? None of these things happen overnight.
I appreciate the quick response from Mr. Lee and do enjoy his product. If you haven’t been, you are missing a fun product at an affordable price. I find it interesting that Southern Illinois has a chance to veto a team coming to Cape. And I totally agree with Mr. Lee that Cape has a slim chance of acquiring an affiliated team.
Ballpark Digest suggested that possibly the Northern League or the American Association could be interested. The American Association has possibly the 2 most famous franchises in all of Indy baseball. The St. Paul Saints is without a doubt the most famous of all independent league baseball teams. Alumni of the team that is co-ownded by Bill Murray includes J.D. Drew the year after he refused to sign with the Phillies and before he was drafted by the Cardinals and a down and out Darryl Strawberry. The President of the Saints is Mike Veeck, son of the notorious Bill Veeck who is infamous for Disco Night in Chicago, possibly the worst promotion of all-time. For more on the Saints, check this out from Baseball Digest. The Fort Worth Cats is also a member of the AA. Recent alumni of the Cats include 2006 Number 1 overall pick, Luke Hochevar and former Missouri Tiger, Max Scherzer. Some lesser known players who played in the league are Chris Grossman and Jaime Landin, both who now play for the Swing of the Quad Cities.
The Northern League features teams from Kansas City to Winnipeg. Three of the teams are from the Chicago area. St. Paul used to be a member of the Northern League until moving to the American Association. Alumni include current Memphis Redbird, Tagg Bozied. The Northern League is also know for some excellent new stadiums, for example Silver Cross Field in Joliet, Illinois, and Alexian Field in Schaumberg, Illinois.
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