Items regarding the end of the Albuquerque Dukes AAA Pacific Coast League franchise after the 2000 season - mostly items summarized from the local media outlets in Albuquerque regarding the loss of the Dukes, stadium construction/financing items, opinions from other league presidents and other baseball operators about the Dukes situation... I must admit all the good stuff has been published in the ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL, the electronic media outlets have done a poor job with this developing/ongoing story AUGUST 2002 UPDATE ... Construction on the renovated sports stadium is continuing and should be done on time April 1, 2003 in time for the 2003 baseball season. The new team name still hasn't been unveiled but ticket prices have been. I have constructed my fan-web page, the unofficial albuquerque AAA baseball web page and will update that page with info as it is reported as well as update it when the new team is named. http://www.nmia.com/~roberts/03albuquerque-baseball.html NOVEMBER 2001 UPDATE ... The Albuquerque City Councilors almost messed up things. In October, they set a deadline to the new ownership group to finalize the contract to purchase the Calgary Cannons or else the work done to date would be for nothing. With that pressure upon them, the ownership group was able to sign the purchase agreement and things progress with getting a new team in Albuquerque hopefully for the 2003 season. . . . "Groundbreaking" took place at the Sports Stadium to begin renovations although some work on the renovation had already begun. . . . HOK Sport will do the architectural work for the redesigned stadium. HOK designed stadiums for the Rockies (Coors Field), Astros (Enron Field), Reds (Great American Ballpark), White Sox (the new Comiskey Park), Orioles (Camden Yards), Giants (Pac Bell Park), Pirates (PNC park), Phillies (ballpark name TBD), and Padres (ballpark name TBD). Personally, I like the work they do and I'm grateful the city accepted HOK Sports to redesign the sports stadium. . . . Albuquerque will get a new mayor in December. Jim Baca is out and Martin Chavez will once again serve as mayor of Albuquerque. This change in leadership shouldn't change the renovation project plans or deadline. JUNE 2001 UPDATE - BASEBALL IS COMING BACK TO ALBUQUERQUE! Voters decided on May 30th to bring baseball back to Albuquerque! 56% of voters approved a bond question to issue $10 million in general obligation bonds to renovate the stadium. 67% voted to renovate the current Sports Stadium while 33% voted to build a new ballpark. So baseball will be back in Albuquerque and it likely will be in the summer 2003 when renovations are completed. An ownership group led by Ken Young and Mike Kokdyke will purchase the Calgary Cannons franchise and move them to Albuquerque. The team, yet to be named, will pay $700,000 annual rent with supplemental rent of 12.5% of revenue in excess of $5.5 million with the supplemental rent not to exceed $437,500 a year. There will be a 10% surcharge on tickets and concession items to help pay for a renovated stadium. Details on renovations to the stadium will follow as the plans are developed and construction begins. UPDATE FOR FEBRUARY 20, 2001 --- i've gotten a few emails lately so I thought I"d summarize the situation. It just seems to be a political hot potato lately - the mayor Jim Baca continues to push his new ballpark desire (approx $35million) while city councellors are saying constituents are calling them and telling them they'd like to renovate the current Sports Stadium - estimated price tag of $20-25 million. I haven't heard any date of when Albuquerque voters will get to have a say in what they want to do, but BASEBALL WEEKLY reported it would be in April. I haven't heard that in the local media so I don't know where BASEBALL WEEKLY got that info. Other than the ballpark, it was announced in January that a group has purchased the Calgary Cannons franchise and will move it to Albuquerque pending PCL approval and the outcome of the stadium issue. The PCL preliminarily has approved the move if the stadium issue is settled to their satisfaction. I bet if the Sports Stadium can be renevoated to AAA level standards or if a new ballpark is built, the PCL will give the final approval. There may be Dukes baseball in 2002 if the Stadium issue gets settled soon (and it is widely believed the team would play at the Sports Stadium while a new ballpark is being built). If renovation wins, it may be several years longer as the Stadium is torn up and re-constructed. Eventally, I hope baseball comes back and that the politicans don't screw up this nice deal to bring baseball back to Albuquerque! on another note, the name "Dukes" belongs to the Portland franchise group as it was included with the team. The Albuquerque investors are going to have to have to buy back the name, but they say if the price is too high, they won't buy it back and will have to come up with a new name. -=-=-= It was reported on the evening news August 29, 2000 that the Mayor and his committee want to put the new ballpark at Lomas and Broadway (close proximity to both I-25 and I-40). It was also reported that renovating the existing Sports Stadium would be $32 million dollars; about the same price as if a new stadium were to be built. -=-=- A must have item for any Dukes fan is the August 19, 2000 ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL. Most of the Sports section and a front page story is devoted to the Dukes and the long history of the franchise (1972 to 2000). If you aren't able to obtain a copy, go to http://www.abqjournal.com and check out the stories. This special newspaper was released as the Dukes begin their final regular-season homestand of the season. There should be more games at the Sports Stadium this season as the Dukes have just about wrapped up a playoff spot and should contend for the PCL (and hopefuly Triple-A World Series) title. Let's hope the Dukes make the TAWS - the series will be televised by ESPN2 so it would be great exposure and last hurrah for the Dukes. -=-=-= On July 31, 2000, two ownership group members attended the Dukes game with Albuquerque mayor Jim Baca. Ken Young, President and Managing General Partner of the Norfolk Tides (AAA Mets) and Martin Koldyke, director of a venturre capital firm based in Chicago, are looking at ways to find investors to bring a team to Albuquerque (mostly likely through purchase of an existing AAA team and move it to Albuquerque). These two members also visited with PCL President Branch Rickey Jr. They think that a team will not be moved or started in Albuquerque if a new stadium is not built. They did concede, however, that if there is an assurance of a new ballpark, the team could play in the Sports Stadium for a few years until the new ballpark is built. =-=-=-= - The ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL reported on July 19, 2000 that the Western League (an independant league) is interested in putting a franchise in Albuquerque. Mayor Jim Baca is not satisfied with the news - he still wants to build a new stadium and bring a AAA-level franchise to the city. The Western League says the Sports Stadium is fine - it's larger than other stadiums in the league. -=-=-= - The ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL delivered the bad news on March 13, 2000. In a copyrighted story by Sports staff writer Dennis Latta, Latta reported that Dukes owner Bob Lozinak sold the team to Marshall Glickman and Mike Higgins from Portland, Oregion. The estimated price of the sale is $10 million to $12 million. The franchise will transfer from Lozinak's Albuquerque Processional Baseball Inc. to Glickman/Higgins' Portland Family Entertainment. The Dukes will play in Albuquerque for the 2000 season before moving to Portland for the 2001 season. It is not known at this time if the Dodgers affiliation will move with the franchise to Portland. Lozinak needed the money from selling the Dukes to help build a new stadium for his franchise in Altoona, Pennsylvania (Class AA Eastern League). - THE OREGONIAN, Portland's newspaper, reported that day that the City of Portland and Portland Family Entertainment will work together to renovate and operate 74-year-old Civic Stadium. It will cost $37 million to renovate (and the city will finance 90 percent of that). A major part of the renovation will be to remove the left-field bleachers and add 32 luxury boxes. There will be sound reducing measures and traffic management measures done, part of an agreement with the city, PFE, and residents near Civic Stadium. PFE will pay $908,000 a year to rent Civic Stadium and will split profits from other operational activities with the city. The city will finance their part of it with a bond issue. Glickman in recent history had tried to acquire the Calgary Cannons (another PCL Franchise) but Cannons owner Russ Parker decided not to sell the team. - Albuquerque mayor Jim Baca is getting a group together to study the construction of a new ballpark as well as how to get another professional baseball team to call Albuquerque home in 2001 or beyond. Dukes president Patrick McKernan is expected to head up or participate in this committee. New Mexico senior senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) vows he will help in any way he can to help Albuquerque get a new professional baseball franchise. Baca wants to try to get a bond issue voted on Summer 2000 to get things rolling should the city eventually decide to finance the stadium with bonds. - The JOURNAL has been speculating that the franchise most-likely to move to Albuquerque of any AAA franchise would be the Ottawa Lynx (AAA Expos). The Lynx are in the last year of an affiliation agreement with the Expos and the Lynx are also trying to renegotiate with the city with the realization if the city and Lynx can't negotiate a new agreement, the Lynx would have to move. It is estimated that in the 2002 season, there are three potential teams that could be moved to Albuquerque. - It's estimated the economic impact of the Albuquerque Dukes to the city is about $12 million - Early estimates say a new stadium would cost $30 million. - KPMG has been hired by the City of Albuquerque for $10,000 to study financing that would be involved to build the stadium. KPMG will study other AAA teams' lease agreement terms, construction costs and how other stadiums were financed. - Portland had a AAA Pacific Coast franchise (the Portland Beavers) until about 6 years ago when the franchise moved to Salt Lake City and became the Salt Lake City Buzz. Portland will spend money renovating Civic Stadium in preparation for the 2001 season. Civic Stadium was the home of the Portland Beavers. Portland acquired a Class A franchise in 1995 but thirsted for another AAA-level team. - The Dodgers this past offseason had made it known they didn't like the Albuquerque Sports Stadium anymore. It didn't have the modern luxuries and space that a AAA-level ballpark in this date and time should have, such as batting cages, larger locker rooms, more spacious weight rooms. - The Dukes have been the Dodgers AAA Farm Club since 1972 - PCL President Branch Rickey III told the JOURNAL that average attendance seems to correlate to the age of the Stadium. The Sports Stadium was built in 1969; the Dukes' 1999 average attendance was 22nd out of 30 total AAA teams. In terms of ballpark ages, there will only be 3 ballparks older than the Sports Stadium in the PCL in 2000. One of the newest stadiums will be the stadium in Sacramento, California. Vancouver's franchise moved after the 1999 season to Sacramento. New stadiums are also in Memphis and Louisville. Rickey III also went on to say the PCL is committed to bringing a franchise back to Albuquerque, but added that just because a stadium is built doesn't guarantee that there will be AAA-level baseball in Albuquerque. - the Sports Stadium was built in 1969 for $1.5 million - Bob Lozinak purchased the Dukes for around $330,000 in 1978 from the Dodgers and sold them team to Portland Family Entertainment for an estimated $10-12 million in 2000 - Texas League President Tom Kayser says there is no interest in putting a league franchise in Albuquerque. The Texas League is AA level baseball. He cited that negatives to adding Albuquerque as a franchise is that Albuquerque was too large to have a AA franchise, and travel and other expenses would increase due to having to extend the league territory to the west to include Albuquerque. He says there are several teams in the current league territory that he would consider adding if the rights conditions existed. - the University of New Mexico Lobos baseball team may end up using the Sports Stadium in 2001. When the Sports Stadium was built in 1969, UNM owned the land and gave the city the right to use the land for free to build a stadium. If Albuquerque is not able to gain a new franchise to temporarily play in the Sports Stadium while a new stadium is built, UNM will take over ownership of the land and the Lobo baseball team may end up playing their home games there under the lights and could attract regional tournaments. The current Lobo Field has no lockerroom and has just bleachers and a press box and no lights. - Robert's commentary: from what I've seen, I don't think too many people would be disappointed if we did not end up with a AAA franchise. I love the game of baseball, I guess I've been spoiled by the fact we've had a AAA-level team. Since I love the game so much, I wouldn't care if it was a rookie league, A, AA, AAA or even major league club. I just want to be able to enjoy professional baseball again in Albuquerque and I will go see a team no matter what professional level they are.