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Brewers High-A Future -- Latest: Manatees choose Braves; Rockies May Like Carolina, Too

Brewer Fanatic Staff

Many of you know we already have detailed threads on the stadium situations in Nashville and Huntsville.


Although we've snuck recent postings about the Manatees' situation into Link Reports or the "Your 2013 Brevard County Manatees" thread, it appears it's time to define a clear thread here as well.




Could Manatees slip away from Brevard?

Business community lobbies to keep team

by Dave Berman, FLORIDA TODAY


“Save the Manatees” is taking on a new meaning in Brevard County.


With the Washington Nationals planning to leave Space Coast Stadium in Viera as their spring training home, the business community’s focus has started to shift to keeping the minor league Brevard County Manatees from moving, too.


General Manager Kyle Smith told an audience of businesspeople that the Manatees’ owner has received several offers to buy the team and move it out of Brevard County.


Smith said he and the team’s owner, Orlando orthopedic surgeon Dr. Tom Winters, enjoy Viera, and would like to stay there.


But, Smith added, “We’re a little concerned about the long-term health of the facility,” particularly on issues related to leaks and rust.


Smith and local media executive Jeff Piersall addressed the importance of baseball to the community during the quarterly meeting of the Melbourne Regional Chamber of East Central Florida’s Viera/Suntree Business Council.


Piersall, co-founder and chief executive officer of SCB Marketing, publisher of three regional business and lifestyle magazines, said there were some deficiencies in local efforts to keep the Washington Nationals in Viera. While the team has made no official announcement about its long-term spring training plans, it is seeking a deal to end its lease with Brevard County for use of Space Coast Stadium as early as November 2014.


Piersall, a member of the Brevard County Tourist Development Council and for the past five years the Nationals’ local spring training marketing director, said any hope of attracting another major league team to hold spring training in Viera depends on keeping the Manatees there, starting with repairing the stadium.


Otherwise, Piersall said, “you will lose the Manatees exactly the same way.”


Smith said the Manatees currently have a sublease agreement with the Nationals to play at Space Coast Stadium that gets renewed year-to-year.


The Nationals lease Space Coast Stadium from Brevard County. Rather than paying a fee to the county, the Nationals pay for the stadium’s routine upkeep and utilities. The county also benefits from the influx of visitors spring training brings.


The Nationals’ lease runs until 2017. But the team can break its lease before then without financial penalty because the bonds used to finance the construction of Space Coast Stadium were paid off earlier this year.


Having the Manatees playing at Space Coast Stadium also will help the county preserve the structure of its 5 percent tax on hotel room occupancy, Piersall said. One percentage point of that tax is designated for professional sports facilities, although up to $350,000 of the portion of the tax is allowed to be taken out for general marketing of Space Coast tourism. If both the Nationals and the Manatees leave, that could mean that portion of the tax no longer could be collected, he said.


In the budget year that ended Sept. 30, the 5 percent tax on hotel room rentals generated a total of about $8.4 million.


The Manatees play in the Florida State League, as a Class A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, but the team is privately owned by Winters.


Piersall suggested that the county agree to allocate $1.2 million from a portion of the tourist tax designated for the stadium to pay for the needed repairs at Space Coast Stadium. He urged the 80 people at the chamber of commerce meeting to contact their county commissioners to express their views on the importance of baseball to the local economy.


“We’ve got to act, and we’ve got to act fast,” said Piersall, who contends that stadium repairs were not fully funded in the past. “Get the stadium fixed, and create a conducive environment for the growth of that business.”


The Melbourne Regional Chamber also is forming a Baseball Task Force, with Piersall as chairman.


Piersall said local tourism and economic development leaders must work more closely with one another on this and other issues. Also, he said, business representatives must be more proactive in finding out what the owners of baseball franchises like the Nationals and the Manatees want the community to do for them.


“The Nationals were a great player and a great asset to this community,” Piersall said, citing its positive impact to the local economy and as a generator of tourism tax revenue from people coming from out of town to watch the team play at Space Coast Stadium.





— Dave Berman, FLORIDA TODAY


Brevard County Manatees General Manager Kyle Smith said baseball can be a tough sell, when compared with football, but he’s trying to do all he can to make it attractive for families with young children, including scheduling occasional 10:35 AM games at Space Coast Stadium.


Smith said the National Football League “has completely overtaken professional sports” because, for example, its 16-game regular season puts more meaning on individual games, compared with major league baseball’s 162-game season.


“Every NFL game is an event,” Smith said, while baseball is more of a “social sport.”


Smith said he tries to position going to a Manatees game as “a clean, safe environment, and a great place to bring your family.” He said fireworks shows, as well as food and beverage deals, are part of the equation to draw fans.

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Nothing finalized (but we enjoy following the rumor trail) --


Brevard County Manatee ownership calls Orlando their home base, and this article indicates that ownership seeks a smaller venue (the Manatees drew an average of 1,451 in 2013, pretty solid by Florida State League standards).


So for those of you hoping for a Brewer affiliate in the Orlando area, such as "pogokat" above, there's still hope. Read below and you'll see any plan is hardly concrete.




Renovated Rollins stadium could be shared with minor-league Manatees

Milwaukee Brewers-affiliated team wants to leave Space Coast Stadium in Viera

By David Breen, Orlando Sentinel


A new plan to bring minor-league baseball to Winter Park is coming up to bat, just a few months after another, more ambitious proposal struck out.


Rollins College and the Brevard Manatees discussed building a shared stadium at Winter Park's Ravaudage development, but negotiations fell apart in March. The latest idea calls for renovating Rollins' existing Alfond Stadium, which also would be shared by the college and the Manatees, a minor-league affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.


A new study, commissioned by Rollins, Winter Park and the Manatees' owner, estimates the cost of upgrading the stadium at $14 million but doesn't recommend a specific way to pay for it. Luring the Manatees would mark the return of minor-league baseball to Metro Orlando, which hasn't had a team since 2003.


The study was conducted by the Madison Group, an Illinois company that has done consulting work on other minor-league ballparks. The stadium also could host tournaments for youth, high school, collegiate, amateur and semi-pro leagues, the study stated.


Winter Park City Commissioner Steven Leary, while noting he hasn't yet seen the study, said Monday that minor-league ball would be a good addition to the city if it proves financially viable.


"I would certainly love to see anything come to Winter Park that offers recreational activity for families," he said. "I think it's the city's responsibility to help facilitate that."


Nearly as significant an obstacle as money could be parking, an issue the study raises without offering solutions. Parking is already in short supply in the neighborhood, and the stadium is bounded by homes, businesses and Lake Midget.


Rollins and the city declined to comment on the report, citing the confidentiality of economic-development projects, and representatives of the Manatees did not return a call seeking comment. The team is owned by Dr. Tom Winters, a specialist in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine in Orlando.


Like the Major League Washington Nationals, the Manatees play at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, and both teams want to move. The Nationals are still seeking a new spring-training home after Osceola County commissioners last month decided not to make a costly deal to lure the team to Kissimmee.


The site of Alfond Stadium, at 801 N. Orange Ave., a few blocks from the Rollins campus, has been used as an athletic field since the 1920s. The city gave the field to Rollins in 1934, according to the college. The stadium in use today was built in 1983.


The college has long wanted a better facility. As the field is aligned now, sun gets in players' eyes when they look toward the outfield in late afternoon. In addition, upgrading the stadium would help with recruiting top high-school prospects.


The study doesn't include specifics on the possible capacity of a renovated stadium. Alfond holds only 1,000 people now, while the Manatees' current home, Viera's Space Coast Stadium, seats 8,100. According to the study, the team would prefer a smaller venue.


Stadium capacity in the Florida State League, the 12-team organization in which the Manatees play, ranges from 4,200 in Daytona Beach to 11,000 in Tampa, though most venues hold between 7,000 and 8,500 people.


The study mentions a broad range of potential funding sources, including sales, hotel and rental-car taxes and contributions from the team and college. When a Ravaudage stadium was being discussed earlier this year, Rollins alumni were expected to play a major role in bankrolling the project.


Although Orange County is mentioned in the study as a potential partner, how the county might participate in financing the stadium is unclear.


"Everything I've heard, it would be something positive for northeast Orange County, Winter Park and Maitland," Orange County Commissioner Ted Edwards said Monday. "The sticking point is always: How do you crack the nut?" he said, referring to funding.


The college and minor-league schedules have about a month of overlap, so game schedules could be a challenge. The Manatees season starts in early April, while the Rollins season ends in late April. If the team makes the playoffs, their season can extend into mid-May.


But Rollins wouldn't be the first team to share a stadium with a minor-league partner. Other schools that have similar arrangements include Rutgers, Penn State, the University of Arizona and the University of Oregon.


The Manatees have played at Space Coast Stadium since it was built in 1994. In 2013, they finished with a 66-68 record and drew a total attendance of 97,238, according to Baseballreference.com.


Groundskeeper Jamie Hill covers up home-plate as it begins to rain at the Rollins baseball Harold Alfond Stadium at Harper-Shepherd Field, on Monday, September 23, 2013. (Photo by Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda, Orlando Sentinel)



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Brewer Fanatic Staff

As a reminder, the Brewers and Manatees have yet to extend their Player Development Contract for another two (or possibly four) years beyond this current season. That decision will need to be made this fall, although a renewal could be announced earlier if agreed upon. One would think a renewal is likely, but better to simply say it's pending for now. Adam McCalvy quoted Gord Ash earlier this week - "Ash said that PDC talks with Nashville and Huntsville/Biloxi, plus Class A Advanced Brevard County and rookie-level Helena, will probably gain steam after the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline."




Click on link while still active, text archived below:


Brevard Manatees baseball team moving to Winter Park's Alfond Stadium

By Mike Synan, My65Orlando.com reporter


WINTER PARK, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) - The City of Winter Park, the Brevard County Manatees, and Rollins College have reached a tentative deal to bring the minor league baseball team to Winter Park, beginning with the 2016 season.


Mike Miller of Rollins College is spearheading the effort. He says Alfond Stadium, where Rollins currently plays, will be rebuilt into a 2,500 seat minor league stadium which the college and team will share.


"Enhancing our baseball stadium with the help of the community is only going to better our program and also better, you know having a professional baseball team will be a very exciting addition to our whole community."


The project will cost $33 million. Rollins will pay a little more than half, counting the donated land and just over $4 million in cash. Winter Park would be on the hook for $6 million -- one million already socked away in their Community Redevelopment Agency, plus another $5 million that would come from the CRA.


Winter Park City Manager Randy Knight says using the CRA will accomplish two important goals: economic development and improving parking, by adding a stadium garage.


"The economic study that we had done showed that this would generate $6 million of annual spending in the Winter Park area, not all of Winter Park, but within this region, this new money to the area. So, it's a very good investment for economic purposes, and with the parking garage associated, it also provides much needed parking relief."


Both the city and the college are excited about adding baseball. Knight says the fact that Orlando is the largest metro area in the nation without a team played a role in the city's decision to pursue a team.


"The Brevard Manatees are established. They already have some following. They believe that by moving it to Winter Park, the attendance would go up, maybe a thousand fans a game," Knight said.


The Manatees will be expected to contribute $2 million to the stadium reconstruction. The final $9 million will come from a federal tax credit called the "New Markets Tax Credit," a credit designed to help economic redevelopment in areas that need improvement. Miller says that, after more than 3 years of chasing the baseball dream in Winter Park, he is excited to try and finish this deal.


"When you go to a baseball stadium on a summer night and you see a professional team and these guys are out there working hard, and you see families having a great time together and not spending thousands of dollars, it's a magical place. I believe Winter Park is a magical place. Putting those two things together will make a wonderful opportunity."


There is still much more to be accomplished according to Knight. On Monday, city commissioners will ask the Orange County Commission to extend the life of the city's CRA five more years, to 2032, so that it can earn the $5 million the city plans to borrow to pay for the stadium renovation.


"To put it in a baseball analogy, I think we are rounding first right now. We got a long way to go to get to home plate, a lot of ways to get thrown out between now and then, but at least we are out of the batters box."


The plan is to have a full vote of the City Commission in August, then go through a planning and zoning phase with public input in the fall. Construction would be in 2015 with the team moving over for the 2016 season.


The Brevard County Manatees are owned and operated by Central Florida Baseball Group, LLC. The team is a member of the Florida State League and a Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Class A-Advanced consists of 30 teams from around the country and is one level below Double-A and two levels below Triple-A (the highest class in Minor League Baseball). The Manatees currently play their home games at Space Coast Stadium in Viera.


The Manatees did not respond in time for the publication of this story.

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Brewer Fanatic Staff

County strikes too late on Manatees

John Torres, Florida Today


No words were needed.


The answer was in his eyes.


It was April 15 and Dr. Tom Winters — owner of the Brevard County Manatees — was enjoying watching his team run all over the Lakeland Tigers during a historic game at Dodgertown's Holman Stadium. I asked him if he intended on keeping the team in Brevard County.


There was a subtle shrug of the shoulders, a sad smile.


He didn't have to say a word.


Monday, the deal to move the Manatees from their longtime home at Space Coast Stadium to their new cozier confines — a new $30 million stadium at Rollins College in Winter Park — moved one giant step closer to reality. The Orange County Commission will likely vote on the matter during the next few months.


Under terms of the proposal, the city will pony up $6 million while the Manatees and the college will come up with the rest and share the facility. The new stadium would seat about 3,000 and be better suited for the typical Manatees crowd of about 1,500 fans per contest. Space Coast Stadium holds 8,100 fans.


Brevard County? When it comes to trying to retain baseball, it's in its usual position of being on the outside looking in.


County Manager Stockton Whitten said he hoped to meet with team officials in the coming weeks. That'll be as useful as trying to jam the toothpaste back into the tube. True that the Manatees' deal involving Space Coast Stadium is with the Washington Nationals and not the county, but Whitten — and everyone else — knows the Nationals have been looking to leave Brevard as well once they find a better-suited landing spot.


And there is no way the Manatees can afford the upkeep of the stadium without the Nationals, said to be about $750,000 a year.


With the Nationals leaving and efforts to lure another team to either replace the Nationals or join them in Viera proving fruitless thus far, there should have been a more proactive effort to make sure the Manatees were secured.


But again, it's no surprise. County officials waited until the Nationals were actively being courted by other counties and courting areas themselves before deciding to commission an economic impact study to tell them that thousands of people coming in from out-of-town to rent hotel rooms, eat meals, buy groceries and attend baseball games was good for the economy.


All along we thought it was going to be the Nationals who bailed first, leaving the Manatees scrambling for a new home.


Who would have thunk it?

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Brevard County Manatees are staying in Viera

Florida Today


At least for now, the Brevard County Manatees are staying in Viera.


The city of Winter Park announced that it has abandoned efforts to build a facility that both Rollins College and the Manatees could share. City Manager Randy Knight told the Orlando Sentinel that the financial numbers just didn't add up in four-way negotiations between the city, Rollins College, the Manatees and the Ravaudage development.


"We're calling it quits," Knight told the Orlando Sentinel. "We were looking for a win-win-win-win, but we couldn't get to a deal that works for all the four parties."


"We're disappointed it didn't work out," he added. "I thought it would be a nice amenity to have."


The Manatees owner Dr. Tom Winters, who is a Winter Park resident, has made no secret that he would like to relocate the team.


"We are disappointed," Winters said in a statement, "but we have developed a great relationship with, and respect for the city's leadership throughout this process."


He added that he would be open to talks in the future.


The team's future in Viera is up in the air as they sublease Space Coast Stadium from the Washington Nationals, who are also looking at different options for spring training.


The team's lease with Space Coast Stadium is a year-to-year lease and Minor League Baseball has tentatively approved the move. They have called Space Coast Stadium home since 1994 as a member of the Florida Marlins organization.

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Brewer Fanatic Staff

This story is actually huge news for the town of Viera (city of Melbourne), but an under-reported overall topic is the future of the Manatees. They will be literally homeless (well, without their current home), perhaps as early as after the 2016 season, and it appears certainly after the 2017 season.


The Florida State League must have real concerns at this time.

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This story is actually huge news for the town of Viera (city of Melbourne), but an under-reported overall topic is the future of the Manatees. They will be literally homeless (well, without their current home), perhaps as early as after the 2016 season, and it appears certainly after the 2017 season.


The Florida State League must have real concerns at this time.


The commissioner was on hand (article) as the Nationals announced this will be their last spring training in Melbourne at Space Coast.


The Brewers are only tied with the Manatees through 2016, but as the article notes, no one knows where the franchise will play in 2017 and beyond.

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This story is actually huge news for the town of Viera (city of Melbourne), but an under-reported overall topic is the future of the Manatees. They will be literally homeless (well, without their current home), perhaps as early as after the 2016 season, and it appears certainly after the 2017 season.


The Florida State League must have real concerns at this time.


The commissioner was on hand (article) as the Nationals announced this will be their last spring training in Melbourne at Space Coast.


The Brewers are only tied with the Manatees through 2016, but as the article notes, no one knows where the franchise will play in 2017 and beyond.


Wouldn't be sad to see Brewers move on. Between being death to hitters and all the rain outs every year.

Proud member since 2003 (geez ha I was 14 then)


FORMERLY BrewCrewWS2008 and YoungGeezy don't even remember other names used

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