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Albany nears deal for pro baseball

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July 3, 2006

Albany --  City commissioners are expected to review and vote on a contract with the South Coast League July 18th.   The team would be the fifth baseball team to come to Albany in fifteen years.

Albany's city manager says it won't cost taxpayers a dime to bring another independent baseball team to town. 

After months of negotiations, City Manager Alfred Lott says he's satisfied with a deal to bring an independent baseball team to Albany.  "We're close to an agreement." Lott says he'll recommend commissioners sign a contract with the South Coast League at their work session July 18th.  "We should not lose anything but the opportunity."

Lott says bringing in another team won't cost taxpayers anything.  "They are prepared to take over the facility as is and start their operations." He says only minor repairs need to be done at the complex, regardless of whether a team comes. The initial contract called for the team to pay the City $40,000 in rent for three years.

Lott says the City has nothing to lose, even if the team bombs, which those before have done. But Lott admits he's concerned how baseball will effect the South Georgia Wildcats, who've proven to be successful in the last two years.  "Some competition amongst advertisers, but that's the only major concern I see."

Wildcats General Manager Darren McPhail agrees the teams would battle for sponsorships and maybe even for fans. But he says the Wildcats have the advantage. "The number one thing we did was tell them why we were going to succeed, and then I think we did that. We're struggling on the field, we won't deny that, and we're working now to change that. But everything we said we were going to do as far as entertainment value, we've done. So I think that's an advantage for us."

McPhail says starting a professional team is never easy, but baseball will face addition struggles in Albany including playing at an outdoor venue in the peak of summer and a long season.  "Where as with us, we only have eight home games and they're indoors. I always say it's 72º and sunny. So I think that's another advantage with us."

Lott says many other cities field both professional football and baseball teams, successfully, and he has the same hope for Albany.   The South Coast league has already agreed to work around the Wildcats home schedule so their games don't coincide.

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