By Andy McKeever On: 09:17PM / Tuesday November 22, 2011
The Parks Commission interviewed the two groups looking to bring a baseball team to Wahconah Park one last time before rendering the 'tough' decision.
Jeff Goldklang will be the owner of Pittsfield's next baseball team.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — There will be baseball at Wahconah Park next year.
The Park Commission approved Tuesday night the Goldklang Group's pitch to form a new team in the newly created Futures Collegiate League, a wooden bat league. The group will now negotiate a lease agreement with the city for the park's usage.
"We believe Pittsfield has a fantastic baseball market," Jeff Goldklang, managing director, said and added that the team has positioned itself to hire a staff in the next few weeks. "We're going to start tomorrow."
The park's future team came down to either Goldklang or Rick Johansen, who proposed purchasing the Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide, in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, and relocating it to the city. However, the Goldklang Group's experience seemed to push the commissioners over the edge.
The finances nearly matched between the two clubs, a point commissioners emphasized during discussions with the teams because the city has not gotten paid in the past. The decision came down to the team's merits.
Johansen's proposed Pittsfield Panthers had the benefit of joining an established 12-team league. However, Johansen's group lacked experience running a baseball team, thought the commissioners. Goldklang is joining the Futures Collegiate League, a five-team league established in 2010, as an expansion but the group currently manages four teams, one independent league and three affiliated with Major League Baseball. The Goldklang Group has consulted for teams on all levels.
"I'm really down the middle ... at this point, it feels a little like a beauty contest," Parks Commissioner Simon Muil said.
The vote was unanimous but the discussion before the vote was split. With the majority in favor of Goldklang, the Panthers' supporters changed their vote to show support for the team that ultimately will call historic Wahconah Park home.
After the meeting, Johansen was not upset with the decision and congratulated Goldklang. Johansen said he initially began pitching the team because he grew up watching baseball at the park and did not want the city to go without a team. Now that there will be baseball, Johansen said he is hopeful that Goldklang will be successful.
"When I entered there was no other team," Johansen said. "The good news is that I don't have to spend the money to purchase the team."
Now forking out the money falls to Goldklang, who is embracing the challenge of playing in a city that has seen its fair share of baseball teams fail. Goldklang is prepared to invest a lot in the new organization.
"Our budget is going to be in excess of the Colonials," Goldklang said. "It certainly will be significant and very high for a collegiate league team."
The expansion team will be the sixth team in the Futures League that spans only three states and was developed by owners of professional-affiliated teams. With teams in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, the league mandates that at least half of the roster is comprised of athletes from New England.
The new team does not have a name yet but Goldklang said the city's residents will likely choose the name.
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Sorry Jeff Goldklang but this will be the biggest "FLOPP" yet. No one cares about the Futures Collegiate League! Why would this City vote yes to that? Why not go with the NECBL and start a rivalry with North Adams? I say they get a total of 300 fans all year.
This City missed it years ago when SOMEONE voted no to the construction to a new stadium down town. That would have been unique and brought money to the city.
My father and I travel to Troy to watch the team that wanted to stay here but left because of the failure to build the above. WE SPEND OUR MONEY ELSEWHERE!
Piitsfield just does not get it and won't until young fresh minds replace these jokers!
Sorry, MJ, but if this was only about "community baseball" and "enjoying a night together with family" Wahconah Park would have been mobbed with people for every failed team since the Astros scooted to Troy and became the ValleyCats. How many low-rent leagues need to come and go before Pittsfield realizes that the only time baseball was successful in the city was when it was affiliated with MLB? If the new stadium had been built downtown, the Astros said they would either remain or even if they moved, they would not have invoked the clause that says a Single A team cannot be within X miles of them. In the end the narrow-minded people of Pittsfield chose to have a CVS across from Big Y instead of a multi-use stadium complex that would have benefited baseball, local high school football, soccer and youth leagues. I love Wahconah Park, but it's not capable of supporting real baseball anymore. Ask the Colonials, who spent two seasons with a lake as their playing field.
To not join with league with teams in Holyoke and North Adams was Foolish. Clearly the Mayor arm twisted the 3 yes votes. Too bad no one asked the fans! Another out of towner who cares about profit not community.
Who wants another local Mickey mouse team here? You people are nuts "the out of towers" are a group owned by bill Murray and bill Veeck's son. The colonials ownership was a joke that's why they failed no GM no baseball sense no business sense.
you gotta get educated before you make statements...the mayor didn't vote on this. it was a local panel of 5 business owners who knew that the local group would have embarassed themselves more then they already did during the presentation process.
the "out of towners" i believe are in towners, and have a home in the area for over 30 years
People who are sitting around waiting for affiliated baseball to return to "Historic Wahconah Park", get over it, it aint happening...ever. What I cant seem to understand here, is that the Colonials had an excellent on field product as far as the Baseball aspect went. Off the field i think they were poorly marketed and advertised. The Can-Am league was a perfect fit for the area. The Colonials had a really good group of core players that the community would have had an opportunity to see play together for a number of years, unlike short season A ball or the amature college teams where its a revolving door of players season to season. Not to mention the level of play was much better and comperable to AA.
So why didnt any of these ownership groups step up and purchase the Colonials and keep the Can Am team here? The Goldklangs operate one of the most succesful independent teams in St Paul, why not the Can Am and Colonials? I think with that ownership group, they would have made the Can Am team very succesful. With limited promotion and advertisment outside of Pittsfield, attendance was actually up for the Colonials this past season.
I just dont see another NECBL or similar type league working in Pittsfield and Wahconah Park. I can go to see a Steeple Cats game in North Adams with my family with 20 bucks in my pocket get 3 tickets and still be able to get a hot dog popcorn and a drink for everyone. I cant see that happening in Pittsfield, and I personaly didnt mind spending the extra money on tickets for the higher level of baseball, but not to see college ball when I have that same product if not better right up the street in a very family freindly environment at Joe Wolfe field.