Thursday, December 10, 2009

2010 GBL Teams Still Unclear

We're three weeks from the end of 2009 and the teams that will comprise the 2010 Golden Baseball League are still not decided.  On Wednesday, the St. George Roadrunners announced that they will cease operations and will not return next season in spite of the fact they won the 2009 Southern Division championship.

The team stated that they failed to turn a profit during their three-year tenure in the GBL.  In 2009, the St. George team finished second-last in attendance with 1,168 fans per game.  The league average for attendance was 1,851 fans, while the Victoria Seals drew an average of 2,342 fans in their inaugural season.

The Roadrunners are owned by XnE Inc, the same company that owns the Maui team that will be joining the GBL in 2010.  When the expansion to Maui was announced in September it seemed odd that XnE would own two teams in the GBL.  Perhaps XnE had intended to eliminate the unprofitable St. George team when the expansion deal was struck.

In any event, it is unclear if there are currently 9 or 10 teams in the GBL circuit.  The Golden League's entry on Wikipedia indicates that the Tijuana team will be part of the South Division in 2010, which would leave the league with 10 teams.  However, I'm not convinced that this is a done deal just yet.

There was a chance that Kamloops would be granted an expansion team in time for the 2010 season, but so far no suitable owner has been located.

The other possibility for a 2010 GBL expansion team is Ottawa, where an interesting political game is underway.  Two rival ownership groups are attempting to secure a lease for the 10,000 seat Ottawa Stadium.  One group, lead by Can-Am League commissioner Miles Wolff, would like to bring a Can-Am League team to the nation's capital.  On the other side of the battle is the Ottawa Stadium Group (OSG), lead by David Butler and Duncan MacDonald.  If the OSG can secure the lease then they would be granted an expansion team in the GBL.

No matter how the Ottawa battle plays out, the GBL needs an even number of teams to be able to develop a reasonable schedule.  Last season's last-minute pull-out of the Tijuana franchise led to an ugly schedule and far too many stretches of three to four consecutive days off for teams.