Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Triple A Coming to the Sox' backyard and answers to questions about the league from the GBL commissioner

Well the big news in Reno today is the announcement that a group has purchased the Tucson Sidewinders with the intent to move them to Reno to begin play in 2009. What this means to the Silver Sox is unknown right now.

Will the market support two teams? The Silver Sox attendance for opening day weekend averaged 1740 with the high coming on Saturday at 2216 for Fireworks night. Last year, the average attendance was 1573. And the break even point given in various interviews was in the 1600-1800 range. If many of those fans are pulled away by Triple A, the Sox could be in trouble. But with both teams playing on many of the same nights, it will be a hard sell for many to watch indy ball when the next big thing may be playing a couple of exits down or a big star is doing a rehab with the AAA team. I hope the Sox have a plan to react to this new info. They'll probably need to do whatever they can to get attendance way up in Reno and build brand loyalty so it makes that choice I just mentioned that much harder when the AAA team opens its gates. Peccole is a nice park but one can only imagine the amenities the new stadium (rumored to be in the $30M range) will have to offer.

But enough on the speculation. I also wanted to share some feedback the commissioner of the league gave to some questions I had. Kevin Outcalt is an excellent representative of the league and his user friendly approach is refreshing. Mayber some of the questions you have are the same as mine. For that reason, I'll post them below.

Does the sale of the Fullerton Flyers put the rest of the league at a disadvantage?

All teams, including the Flyers are under the same cap rules. However the GBL Bylaws do allow the Flyers to exceed the cap if they are willing to pay a luxury tax (similar to cap rules in most professional leagues). I like the innovativeness and marketing skills of the Flyers' new ownership group as they've already made noticeable awareness improvements with their use of James Denton (Desperate Housewives actor who is part owner) in marketing and season ticket sales campaigns and the re-branding/naming of the team to the OC Flyers to expand their reach broader in Orange County.

Are advertising budgets really low or does Reno just not do it?

Reno does have an advertising budget and is slated to begin about 60 days before the season with print, radio, and TV ads. That begins late next week -- I'll send you a separate email with the entire campaign if you are interested so you can watch for their ads. The Silver Sox did not have a radio deal last year, but one for this coming year is already completed. You'll be able to listen to all Reno games, home and away, on ESPN Radio which is, I believe, KPLY 630 AM in Reno. You're right, that should have happened in the first year but didn't get done. I'll respond to your email with some questions about effectiveness of the various Reno media in reaching fans that I'd love to hear your thoughts on.

How does a team get its players? Are there tryouts in every city or at a central location with a draft process. Do teams get their players back (those who decide to return)?

Teams have the ability to exercise a one year option for any players they want to bring back for another season. By November 15th players must either have their options exercised for the next year or they become free agents. Most GBL teams exercise options on 10-12 players. They fill the rest of the roster from either tryouts, the Arizona Winter League, working the MLB release lists, or by having players and agents contact them directly looking for a job. Your manager, Les Lancaster, is also considered one of the best in independent baseball at building winning teams and has taken his team to the playoffs in all but one of his eight years of managing and has twice earned Manager of the Year awards. One of the keys to his success is the stunning number of players that he gets signed by major league organizations which has given him a tremendous reputation with recently released players and agents. Les even had two of his off-season signees placed with the Orioles and Royals before they even played a game for the Silver Sox this year.

What is the GBL Salary Structure?

There is no minimum or maximum salary, but the monthly player payroll cap of approximately $20K for a 22 (or in some cases 21) man roster does put the monthly average salary at about your $1K figure. This applies to all teams, league-owned or locally-owned, although teams can go over but pay a cap excess fine/tax. Most teams have a number of rookies at the low-end, a number of players around the average, and a few more experienced players over. Our salary structure is very similar to the Frontier League ($600-$1200), but less than the Atlantic or Northern Leagues that go after more veteran players.

Why don't you have a Disabled List?

We eliminated the DL and Waiver Wire this year as, in our experience, they are really tools to constrain player movement. Stockpiling of players and placing them with phantom injuries on the DL, or selecting every player on Waivers to tie them up and keep them from playing for rivals are two unhealthy practices that occur frequently in Indy ball. In the GBL in 2007 for a short-term injury, the player stays with the team and recovers. For a long-term injury the player is either released and becomes a free agent after they have rehabbed, or can go on his team's Inactive List - player's choice -- and return to their team when they are ready.

Again, great responses from the league commissioner.


Peeaanuut said...

Great Q&A. I like the elimination of the injury list because its just causes confusion. Players that are "with" the team but are injured that never show up to practice or the game. Lets replace them and get the teams going.

Anonymous said...

Actually, this addition would make 3 teams in Reno - the Astros, Silver Sox and a minor league team. I think it's possible to support that, my friends and I all lover baseball and would attend, but I don't feel a good atmosphere at the Silver Sox games. There is decent attendance.