Sunday, August 7, 2011

Atlantic League Likely Won’t Add Second Team On Long Island

Posted by John Walk on Aug 2, 2011 in Atlantic League | 0 comments

The Atlantic League will only have one team in Long Island for now.

In a referendum ballot vote held in Nassau County on Monday, voters defeated a plan that would have allowed the county to borrow $400 million to fund a project that would have included a new minor league baseball stadium, a new indoor arena for the New York Islanders, a hotel and retail and residential facilities.

With the baseball stadium, the league was looking to add a team in Nassau County, which is located on Long Island. About $25-$30 million of the funding would have been earmarked for the baseball stadium.

Of the approximate 160,000 ballots that were cast, 57 percent of voters voted against the plan.

Nassau County residents pay some of the highest property taxes in the country, and although supporters of the referendum claimed tax increases would average $14 to $58 a year, most voters opted against spending public money to benefit privately held sports franchises.

The county is currently under the thumb of a state-appointed fiscal watchdog after citing a budget deficit of more than $100 million earlier this year. In late June, 128 county workers were laid off in a budget-cutting measure.

League founder and chief executive officer Frank Boulton said Tuesday he was disappointed with the outcome.

“I am disappointed and I’m a little surprised by the mandate of the amount of people who voted ‘no.’ The ballpark was $25 to $30 million of a $400 million deal. But I understand that people voted against the overall project,” Boulton said.

Boulton had said last month that having a team in Nassau County would be a logical fit because it is the neighbor of Suffolk County, which is home to the Long Island Ducks — a team that Boulton owns. The two Long Island teams would have had a natural rivalry.

Going forward, Boulton said the league has no plans at this point to entertain a discussion with the county about a project that would only involve the baseball stadium.

“If (Nassau County) is serious about Atlantic League baseball in their county, I’d be happy to sit down and talk to them,” Boulton said.

Despite the news with Nassau County, Boulton said the league is looking forward to meeting with officials in Woodland, Texas, to have discussions about adding a team there.

Woodland would be a rival for a team in Sugarland, Texas, that is expected to join the league in 2012.

“It would be a new team. We have Sugarland there and we want to get a sister city. We’re going to be setting up meetings likely late this season or sometime in the fall,” he said.

Including the Road Warriors, the Atlantic League currently has eight teams in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Maryland, including the York Revolution.

With the addition of Sugarland in 2012, it’s likely the Road Warriors will be scrapped next season. It’s unclear how the divisions will be impacted when Sugarland comes on board.

And in 2013, the Loudon (Va.) Hounds are expected to join the league. That team was originally scheduled to be ready by next season, but setbacks on its new stadium have pushed back its debut.

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