minor league baseball in ypsilanti

I just got back home from the first meeting of the Ypsilanti 2020 Task Force. I was going to tell you all about it, but, thanks to Steve Pierce, it’s probably not necessary. He was there, video camera in hand, so I imagine that everything will be up on his site by the end of the week. I will, however, say that I liked the direction and the energy of the group. It was nice for a change to have a positive conversation about our city and what we might be able to pull off if we work together. I was very much impressed by the other members of the group and I look forward to working with them. The problems we face are daunting, but, if tonight was any indication, I feel as though we might have a fighting chance of making it through what we’ve got ahead of us.

The brightest spot of the evening, at least for me, was the almost giddy enthusiasm we all seemed to share for the idea of a minor league baseball team taking up residence at Water Street. I’m not a big fan of professional team sports in general, but I’ve got to confess that the idea has even got me a little excited. Maybe it’s a pipe dream that we could lure a team here, but what’s life if you don’t have a dream? Maybe this is the little ray of sunshine that will keep us going through these difficult times to come.

City Councilperson Brian Robb is among those pushing the idea of a minor league franchise. (His suggestion is that we look into the Frontier League, which isn’t tied in any way to Major League Baseball.) He’s got a compelling post as to why he thinks it would work over at his site. Here, with his permission, is a clip:

…In 2006, Traverse City drew 203,574, Gateway 182,124, Washington 152,805, and Evansville 130,212, Kalamazoo 119,530, and Rockford 115,776.

There are currently two teams in the Frontier League that have suspended play in 2007. The Mid-Missouri Mavericks are building a new stadium and the Ohio Valley Redcoats are looking for a new home.

The teams in the Frontier League play 96 games, with 48 of those being at home. That’s 4,000 people a night coming to our city to eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores all summer. That’s not bad. And when you consider the old residential proposal for Water Street calls for about 1,500 new, full-time residents, it’s awesome…

Brian’s even named the team, created a logo, and reserved the URL. They’re called the Ypsilanti Liberators. (I was going to lobby for the Ypsilanti Eccentrics, but the Liberators is starting to grow on me.)

My experience with baseball is somewhat limited. Everything I know is due to the fact that I had a friend in high school who was drafted by the Atlanta Braves. I saw him play on his way up to the big leagues, and I saw him play on his way back down. I guess I should have enjoyed watching him play in major league stadiums more, but the best times I ever had watching him play were during those periods when he’d been moved down to play for the Durham Bulls, or whatever the Atlanta farm team was that played the Toledo Mud Hens. There was something very nice about going to a park and watching a hometown team play, surrounded by fans that didn’t have to go into debt to afford their tickets. Players, minus the big league egos, were out talking with kids and everyone seemed happy. Like I said, I’m not a big baseball fan, but if we could have something like that, I’d buy season tickets in a heartbeat. I might even wear a Liberators cap.

Here’s my contribution to the discussion that’s heating up…. I wonder if it might be possible for a community to pool its resources and buy into a franchise like the one that Brian’s suggesting. I wonder if shares could be sold within the community, so that it’s not just a few big investrors coming in, setting up, and reaping the profit. What if, I’m wondering, we could all do it together and everyone could share in the risk, and the reward, together? What if we could offer $10 shares so that every kid in Washtenaw County could have a piece of ownership? We’d still need some multi-million dollar investors, but wouldn’t it be cool if 1,000 of our friends and neighbors also comtributed? That idea really excites me.

And here’s another idea. Why not start a petition, getting people to sign up and say that if a team came, they’d buy season tickets? Wouldn’t investors take us a lot more seriously if we had 1,000 ready to pony up their hard-earned cash for season tickets?

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  1. Posted June 26, 2007 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Wow!!! This is crazy because I was just talking to my friend about how sweet it would be to have a minor league team in Ypsilanti just yesterday and I wake up this morning, go to MM and there it is. I would be beyond excited and do everything in my power to help make this happen. Going to minor league games is such a fun summer thing to do. The tickets, beer and food are usually cheap; it’s great family entertainment; and it would be the perfect thing to help bring the community of Ypsi together. And it would fit with our whole history, because we used to have a minor league team, although I would have to research to find out more of the history. What an exciting idea! And the logo and name are great. I am excited. What’s next to keep this moving?

  2. Eric
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    I’m excited as well. When I saw Brian’s logo design before reading the post, I wondered what I’d been missing. Before moving to Ypsi I lived in East Lansing, and I went to the Lugnuts quite often. I’ve often wished for a minor league team in the area (within twenty to thirty minutes). Having one in downtown Ypsi would be great. What does have to happen to keep this moving? Who courts the major league organizations? What’s a timeline for something like this?

    And because of the beer love in Ypsi, instead of only Miller and Labatt, maybe there could be a Corner Brewery vending booth as well. That would make for wonderful Thirsty Thursdays.

  3. BrianB
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I wonder if it might be possible for a community to pool its resources and buy into a franchise… absolutely

  4. Robert
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I absolutely love the idea. I think it’s perfect for Ypsi, and Brian’s ideas for the name and logo are excellent.

  5. egpenet
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Start a season ticket PLEDGE site. Get a price list together … box, reserve, deck, bleachers … and I’m in!

    This is a great idea!

  6. brian r
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Just a few clarifications:

    1) I am not Ypsilanti’s answer to Clifford Irving. There are real people with real money working on this. They are working in the shadows because baseball at Water Street has never been looked upon very fondly. Just watch the “what we don’t want” segment from the February community meeting on Water Street.

    2) The name is not mine. There could really only be two names; Liberators or Bombers. The Eccentrics is an intersting suggestion, but imagine what that mascot would look like.

    3) The logo is not mine either. It was created by Kate.

    I had thought of a community owned team a la the Green Bay Packers, but as there is a group working on this, I figure it should be their decision to incorporate this into the model, but I really like that idea a lot.

  7. Citizen Blogger
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Ypsilanti Christs?

  8. Robert
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    I would certainly support this idea. Good use of the space, and something to get the community behind as a group, instead of everyone going their own way, picking the city to death!!


  9. Robert
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Just for the record, that last comment was from a different Robert. I’m now thinking I might use the screen name “liberatorsfan” from now on.

  10. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Ah! At last, a cynic.

    Not a huge cynic mind you. As little as I care for baseball the image of ketchup covered kids in a sunny ballpark along the river is a fine one.

    I assume that the folks with money are studying this, but question is a lot the frontier league teams seem to be located a good drive away from a MLB stadium.

    The exception I found was the Windy City Thunderbolts and their attendance in on a steady decline. Last year it was 1,477 per game.

    So, two questions:
    -Do these minor league teams do well in urban areas with major league teams down the road?
    -Is minor league baseball a completely different animal than college baseball (i.e., does low attendance at EMU games during a MAC championship-run indicate local interest)?

  11. Eric
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I say you start a contest for naming the snowball¹s-chance-of-coming-to-Ypsi minor league team (I¹d love to be optimistic, but for some reason [WATERSTREET] I can’t be). Also, given the success of raising money for server memory, Mark should just parlay that little fundraising into raising $$ for the team. Yeah?

    Here are a few of my suggestions for team names:

    Ypsi Receiverships
    Ypsi CrackHos
    Ypsi NonOffensiveNonNativeAmericanMascots
    Ypsi ShootFirsts
    Ypsi LayOffs
    Ypsi IncomeTaxers

  12. Posted June 26, 2007 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Ol’ East-

    Answer to Q#1: Detroit’s not exactly down the road. And you have to think about people in Ann Arbor, who would probably love to go watch a professional baseball game but not drive all the way over there. Plus there’s the other surrounding areas that probably would dig it-Milan, Saline, Manchestor, Chelsea, Canton, Belleville, ect. Plymouth has a minor league hockey team, and they seem to do OK. Toledo’s (Mudhens) aren’t that much further; neither is Lansing (Lugnuts). Plus – who cares? We’ve got nothing to lose – it’s not like the city of Ypsi would be putting up the money! Granted, we don’t to waste the opportunity of Water Street – but the whole concept is dragging out way too much. Nobody wants to invest in real estate right now. I think the whole condo/retail idea is dying. The baseball team is the best idea I’ve heard so far.

    Answer to Q#2: College baseball is very different. For some reason it’s just not popular. Minor league teams are more exciting – and a town like Ypsi would be perfect because it could take some ownership and pride in the team.

    You bring up some good points. But…those questions are for the developers/investors to figure out! We’ve got to do everything we can to convince them that it WILL work.

    As far as names, I vote for The Bombers.

  13. egpenet
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Minor league teams, properly managed and promoted … like any other business … are doing quite well, tahnk you. Not too many Dads can afford a game and all the trimmings at the old ball park in Detroit. Pro teams charge WAY too much for the hassle.

    Minor league players are more fun to watch, less skilled and therefore unpredictable, therefore the games are more exciting … from the blowouts to the nail biters … they are great! Local mascots, team players living locally, some of them, great coaches who are former scouts and players for the majors.

    And besides that … baseball is a great game to watch with more skills, more strategy and more twists and turns than any other sport … except hockey.

    Go Liberators! Tickets anyone?

  14. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I’ll take you folks word for it.

    Go Ypsilanti Braves!

  15. Cleo Love Paste
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    The Bootie Shakers.

    The Water Street Skanks.

    The Smeets.

    The Our Jails are Over Crowded So Do Whatever the Fuck You Likes.

    (I’m just kidding about ideas #2 and #4. I really like the idea.)

  16. Posted June 26, 2007 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    I hate baseball, but I love baseball games and the idea.

    My cousin just signed to the Brewers, so maybe he can just throw some balls into the Huron every other week?

    Wait, my LSU roommate pitched on the winning team in the college world series…with a few more connections, I could field a team for us with just a few called-in favors and an inflatable stadium!

    Go Hairy Frogs!

  17. Posted June 26, 2007 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    There are a number of things I have seen while reading this blog that have made me think for no other reason than a gut feeling, wow thats a good idea. I still look up bio fuels from algae on a regular basis waiting to see if anything new comes of it. I am not a sports fan at all, and hardly know any of the teams out there, but if we had our own minor league team, I would definitely go to a game. I would definitely pay to advertise there somehow as I am sure most of the businesses in town would. I don’t know how this would work financially, but I think it would be a fun solution, and a great way to bring the community into it.

  18. Amanda
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    In my urban planning schooling, we learned that the idea of sports complexes as an answer to urban economic development woes isn’t actually all that great. I think part of the take home for me was that people think it’s gonna be the big answer (and analysis has found that the economic gain, esp. from publically financed projects, is minimal if present at all), when there are huge needs around basic city services not being met, because so much money is going into the big fancy complex… Sounds like a quandry we’ve been in– all the eggs in one basket sort of state of mind. And, there’s the challenge of the 320 days of the year (based on figure above re: approx 48 home games) when there aren’t tons of people around for a game. I’ve attached some links & abstracts from the planning literature below worth checking out– looks like with minor leagues there are models that can be more succesful than some of the major league projects.

    BUT, that said, my gut reaction is, like many of you, that it’s a great idea. I love the spirit of unifying that could happen, and the idea of community-financing. I think ours would need to be conceived of differently than many– working from an assets-based approach, the idea of really building on overall community strengths– i.e., working with (as jim, et al cite above) existing locally-owned businesses as well as the things that draw people to ypsi– car shows, etc– AND DEFINITELY thinking about a facility that could be used throughout the year for different purposes (it would be much more valuable for us if it had a roof that could open and close)… e.g. a concert venue, a place for car shows, maybe a skating/hockey rink in the winter, other community rec facilitites, a field that local teams could use in the off season, a venue for fundraisers, a place that could have a giant dance floor put down (ever been to centennial terrace in sylvania, ohio? GIANT outdoor ballroom– http://www.sylvaniarecreation.org/Facilities/CTERRACE/) et al…. Could it have an Ypsi history museum as part of it that could be open year round and run by the Ypsi Historical Society or others? Could some proceeds support local nonprofs, especially our community rec facilities? Could we host a year round farmer’s market there, or other fairs that would really promote and support local businesses? (Think Shadow Art Fair could take up a stadium??)

    AND (I would be remiss to not mention this) how about making it a ‘green’ stadium? In Midland, MI, they built a solar-powered stadium (http://abclocal.go.com/wjrt/story?section=local&id=4540036 and http://www.dowcorning.com/content/news/stadium_solar_panels.asp). Ours could have a green roof on part of it, to reduce runoff (especially because it would be adjacent to the Huron, and runoff from large impervious surfaces is an issue). Rain collection system to water the field? Top of the line recycling systems… I found a whole website devoted to sustainability/environment as related to sports. (http://www.g-forse.com/index_e.html) Interesting articles. I also found a company in Ottawa who consults specifically on designing green sports facilities (http://www.greengold.on.ca/about/index.html).

    Soooo, I’m interested. I love being a hometown fan, and would indeed buy season tickets… Now I’m dreaming… Ypsi Hurons… Ypsi Prides…

    Articles of interest:



    Journal of Sport & Social Issues, Vol. 26, No. 3, 235-247 (2002) DOI: 10.1177/0193723502263002 © 2002 SAGE Publications
    New Sports Stadiums, Community Self-Esteem, and Community Collective Conscience by Rick Eckstein Villanova University & Kevin Delaney Temple University

    Sports economists have created a sizable literature on the costs and benefits of publicly funded major-league sports stadiums. This research suggests a growing consensus that stadiums provide little economic advantage for local communities. In response, some stadium supporters have modified their tactics to increasingly avoid claims of tangible economic benefits. Instead, they insist that new stadiums offer communities more intangible social benefits. These alleged intangible benefits can take many specific forms but usually have something to do with a community’s self esteem or its collective conscience. This article draws on the authors’ primary research in 10 U.S. cities that are involved in different stages of new stadium construction. The authors demonstrate how local elites socially construct ideas such as community self-esteem and community collective conscience to help them reap large amounts of public dollars for their private stadiums.

    Economic Development Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 4, 313-324 (1991). DOI: 10.1177/089124249100500403 © 1991 SAGE Publications
    Local Government, Minor League Baseball, and Economic Development Strategies

    Arthur T. Johnson University of Maryland Baltimore County
    Policy debates over the investment of public funds in sports stadiums are dominated by a concern for the economic impact of local sports teams. Local officials in communities with minor league teams have little research on which to base their policy decisions and often assume that economic benefits similar to those received by cities with major league teams will accrue to them if a minor league stadium is built. The article finds that a minor league team’s economic impact is insignificant relative to a community’s total economy. However, if a development logic is used in planning a stadium project the facility can help achieve such outcome goals as downtown revitalization, new development, enhancement of community image, and recreational infrastructure improvement. Examples of the successful use of minor league stadiums to achieve these goals are presented. Outcome goals such as these, rather than debate over a team’s economic impact should shape policy decisions.

    Estimating the economic impact of a minor league baseball stadium

    William G. Colclough, Lawrence A. Daellenbach, Keith R. Sherony
    Economics Department, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA
    Minor league baseball has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. In many communities baseball supporters are proposing sports stadiums often with some degree of tax support requiring voter approval. Economic growth and development are issues citizens are asked to consider when they vote. This paper presents an easily adaptable model for estimating the direct and indirect economic impact of a minor league baseball team on the community. An application of the model is featured. Direct expenditures from external sources are estimated and RIMS II regional multipliers are applied to determine the indirect impact on area output, earnings and employment.

  19. Anonymous
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Here is the video that was mentioned earlier.


    Here is the the question asked by the new city planner Karen Hart at the February 14, 2007 Water Street Update meeting.

    Karen Hart: Are there any particular types of uses you absolutely would never want to see on this site (Water Street)? It would be helpful to know what is the sense of the group is about that. That could certainly vary with people but there’s something we really shouldn’t even spend any time even thinking about it?

    Former Mayor Cheryl Farmer (off camera): A Baseball stadium.


    Karen Hart: I think that was thought about once, right?.

  20. egpenet
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Amanda! Green! Green! Green!

    Why hasn’t Ypsilanti signed the Kyoto agreement?

    Why can’t Ypsilanti do what Lansing has done and commit to significant reductions in grid-sucking sounds?

    Why is our Ypsilanti logo still BLUE … it should be GREEN … cementing our links to EMU and the environment with a FURTHER boost?

    Why can’t our mayor get into jawboning asll of the great things about the city, and instead hides in meetings and doesn’t walk the streets?

    Water Streeet is only ONE issue. There’s a LOT going on in the rest of the city thanks to US, but we NEVER see the guy!?

    Brian Robb is EVERYWHERE! Brian Filipiak, on the other hand, appears to slink behind the wall of crowds at concerts and such. I’ve never seen him shaking hands or engaging in table conversations at the local pubs.

    Wanna get ree-elected? Wanna get to know what’s on our minds? Wanna know what’s happening on the streets and in the stores downtown … ya’gotta get out here guys! BR is here. Trudy is out here. Lois gets out.

    Feel our pulse … or feel the pain. It has come to tyhat, gentlemen.

  21. egpenet
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    OK … I was going to go offline and do something else, but my good buddy, the esteemed gentleman from the South Side snuck in …

    Sweet Dr. Farmer, I like her so very much as a friend, as a neighbor, as a knowledgeable lover of growing things …

    But Water Street is IDEAL for a sporting site … as I’ve told the developers and Kevin Hill. Sports is sports. For me, baseball is ideal. But semi-pro ANYTHING would be a big draw … footabll, soccer, softball … check out the Canton, Michigan stadium activity.

    And during off-season, rentals for car shows, demolition derbies, you name it … the types of action events the Pontiac Silverdome attracts would be great. After that, it’s anyone’s site to antiques, car shows, auctions, beheadings … whatever. (Kidding!)

    Seriously, the only one in FAVOR of the income tax was my neighbor Cheryl. The only only who hates stadiums in Cheryl. As Perry Mason used to say … I rest my case.

  22. mark
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the links, Amanda. I’m aware of some studies that do in fact point out that communities that pay for stadiums rarely get that money back, but I think most of those studies revolved around major league stadiums built with tax dollars. What we’re talking about here, I think, is quite a bit less ambitious, and the city (I assume) wouldn’t be paying for it. I’m going to read all of your links and comment more later… And I agree about the “green” stadium concept. Could be a really great thing.

    (Do you have a way to access the text of those last articles you mention, Amanda? I don’t know that I’m reading it correctly. Were those last articles both included in the 1991 journal you reference? If so, it’s a bit old, but it might still be useful, especially if the authors are still working in the field.)

    Thanks everyone for joining in the conversation.

  23. brian r
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Whatever ends up at Water Street be it residential, commerical, light industrial, or park land, it’s going to have a significant amount of public financing. If you don’t want an income tax funnelled towards paying the bills, it’s going to be a dedicated Water Street millage.

    Is baseball at Water Street a possibility? I don’t know, but don’t rain on my parade just yet.

  24. Amanda
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Nope, can’t get to the actual articles, Mark… Maybe our planner or grad school or professor or librarian friends (hint hint) have access/subscriptions to such things, and can look them up for us. Thought including the abstracts and full citation could facilitate that. One of the links goes to an entire pdf, but others not…

  25. mark
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    I think I found a deal killer while reading up on the Frontier League on Wikipedia. Here’s an excerpt from the entry:

    …Frontier League rules limit teams to three “veterans” (those with three or more years of professional experience), two two-year players and seven one-year players (those with at least 150 professional at-bats or 50 innings pitched). The other half of the 24-man roster is confined to rookies. Players cannot be older than 27 as of Jan. 1.

    Pay in the Frontier League is minimal, as each team has a salary cap of $60,000 and the league minimum is set at $600 per month. Due to the low pay, players typically live with host families…

    That’s right, they’ll WANT TO LIVE WITH US!

    Let’s please stop this before it goes too far.

  26. mark
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    It’s kind of unexpected to hear you advocating a “significant amount of public financing,” Brian. I thought you were pretty solidly in the “not one more dollar on Water Street” camp.

  27. brian r
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    I think I’d have to take exception at being lumped into the “not one more dollar on Water Street” camp.

    If you asked me if I’m in favor of spending a million dollars to knock down the existing structures without having a developer in sight, then I’d answer no I’m not in favor of that proposition.

    The reality is that in November of 2009 and May of 2010, we have $854K due. Those payments won’t stop until around 2030. Those are our obligations and we will honor them. I think it makes more sense to go burn politcal capital on a dedicated millage than an income tax.

    I’m not sure where this “not one more dollar on Water Street” camp is, but even those people realize that general fund money will be used to pay the debt.

    See what you’ve done now? You’re turning glorious talk about baseball into sordid discussion about the dirty side of Water Street.

  28. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    So, besides the allure of children diving into the glass-studded Huron to retrieve foul balls, the idea has the benefit of the the best of an industrial development without the side-effects. The riverside location would still allow for parks and such, and we’d get a taxpayer who didn’t drain city resources by living here (other than the hunky, spittin’ tight-panted ballplayers).

    My five-second research showed the Travese City team became the township’s (where the stadium lies) number one tax payer. But, Traverse City isn’t economically challenged. If anyone has any data on how well these projects do in areas that are more like Ypsi (aka Battle Creek) than Plymouth or Canton, It’d be good to hear. (Is this really the silver bullet that don’t slow ya down?)

    If this doesn’t work out, it’s good to feel hopeful with images of a ball diamond turning noxious fumes into dollar bills, even for one night.

    Dangy, Amanda. You had me at “gut reaction.”

    Brian R., Please tell me when it’s okay to rain on your parade.

    Jim “Luwak” K., I’d even take my daughter to a ball game if I could find me a “Join the Club” waiting there.

    Go Ypsi Brick-a-Dicks!

  29. mark
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    What if Ole E Cross and I bare-knuckle box at Water Street 40 times a year – would you pay to advertise, Jim? I’d love to wear a blood-stained Cafe Luwak robe. (Preferably it wouldn’t be my blood.)

  30. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    No-holds-barred fighting is the new minor league baseball. (Cock-fighting is the new minor league hockey.)

    Mark, you can douse your robe with any kind of blood you wish before the fight, but it won’t spare you the fabulous flurry of my fluffy fists.

    Perhaps to Ypsi’s own dirty brothers are were we should be looking for the sporting answer. Baby-head baseball, anyone?

  31. Anonymous
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 1:51 am | Permalink

    Mark: I am sure we could come up with a Cafe Luwak robe for you to wear.

    Ol’ EC: I would think we could come up with an arrangement like we have with the Corner Brewery where you could call in an order and tell us your seat number, then I could send Forrest out to do deliveries to ballpark. Gordon’s Five and Dime could handle the popcorn and peanuts. Shanon Gordon would be the ideal candidate to go up and down the isles shouting “Get your popcorn and peanuts here.” Then VG Kids and the Rocket could handle the printed novelties. Between all the local businesses it wouldnt take much to create a traditional ball park atmosphere.

  32. Amanda
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    and growing hope would help build the green roof as a job training program! maybe we’d even grow food on it! they could design it so there’s a tall enough fence around that safety’s not a concern, and we can have locally grown cucs to make pickles for the hot dogs/soy dogs sold at the park… on a tangent, when i used to look at the old sandborn maps of depot town from 100 years ago, there was this building with all of these big circles. it was the ypsi condiment company. i couldn’t figure it out for the longest– then i realized those were the pickling tubs! could we call the team the ypsilanti pickles?

  33. Posted June 27, 2007 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    and Cousins Vinyl would help book Lee Osler to sing Back to Ypsilanti instead of the national anthem before every game! Maybe we’d even sing along!

    It’s almost too easy…

  34. BVos
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    One thing that you’ll want to investigate before moving too much forward on this is the no-compete clause Mike Illitch has on local professional baseball with his MLB franchise. Within every MLB franchise contract, the team owner has exclusive rights to accept or deny any professional baseball team (including minor leages) within a certain geographic radius of the existing MLB team. That geographic radius may extend to Ypsilanti.

    Minor league teams have been proposed at Tiger Stadium and elsewhere in the metro area only to be shot down by Illitch. Of course those were back in the days when Illitch had a brand new stadium but a really sucky team that no one wanted to see, even if given free tickets. He might see things differently now, but there are no guarantees.

    The other factor that needs to be considered is can the baseball stadium generate enough taxes and/or fees to pay the annual payments on the bonds? If not, will citizens of Ypsilanti really be willing to pay X number of mills in extra property tax for a baseball stadium? If so why don’t we pass a millage to fund parks and recreation and the Freighthouse restoration as well? That would do a whole lot more for the city than a stadium.

    Some UM planning students recently did a study of the reuse of the ACH (nee Visteon, nee Ford) plant. One of their suggestions included an entertainment area with a minor league baseball stadium. There is some useful data in this report that might be worth looking into. I can email a copy of this to someone. Who to? I’d also be willing to see if I can dig up the studies above. As to not violate copyright laws, who should I email the .pdfs to?

  35. Murph
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I’ll note that our lovely local University has a library that probably contains the journals mentioned above. If not, I believe JSTOR and other journal databases are accessible from the no-login-required terminals in the library. (And, on a side note, any resident of Ypsi can get an EMU library card. The library is certainly high on the list of reasons I like living 2 blocks from campus…)

    Mark: 40 bare-knuckle fights a year with OEC? I’m certainly not paying for season tickets there – I don’t know if you’d get up from the first one.

  36. egpenet
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    The Ypsi Dillies! Love it, Amanda!

  37. Brian R
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Tigers Stadium sits on 8.5 acres. If the proposed Rose Will Monroe stadium took up twice that footprint, the total land required for this fantasy would be only 17 acres. That leaves 21 acres for a park running along the river and a nice natural gas fired power plant.

    In 2005, Troy, MI toyed with the idea of minor league baseball after General Sports and Entertainment, LLC approached them about building a stadium on civic center property. The proposal was for a $17.5M 5,500 seat stadium that would have been privately financed.

    General Sports is located in Rochester, MI and own or manage several minor league franchises, most notably the Fort Wayne Wizards (A affiliate of the San Diego Padres).

    Despite being allowed to use the stadium for 265 days a year with zero rent, Troy turned them down in January of 2005 after much citizen outrage. Most thought the stadium would enlarge the city and ruin it’s “small-town” feel. Residents would have been required to pay $2M for infrastructure improvements.

    General Sports was reportedly in negotiations with 6 other communities about this team and had hoped to begin playing by May of 2006, but I haven’t heard of any new developments.

    Finally, Ypsilanti does not fall under the no-compete clause Mr. Ilitch has as part of his ownership agreement with MLB.

  38. Cleo Love Paste
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    So I guess that solves the mystery as to who this group of investers is that might be interested in doing something in Ypsilanti.

  39. LiberatorsFan
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    “The Bombers” would have been my first choice for a name too…before 9/11. These days, having a team with a name like that would likely cause all sorts of on-going ‘security’ problems. You might as well call the team “The Improvised Explosive Devices.”

    As most of you probably know, the Willow Run plant produced 8,685 B-24 “Liberator” Bombers during WWII. Naming an Ypsilanti baseball team “The Liberators” would be a nice tribute to that important piece of local history.

    Again, I personally like the idea of a team being called “The Bombers,” but much of the potential fan-base might find “The Liberators” a more ‘tasteful’ choice. Self-proclaimed Liberals can love the name because they could imagine that it is somehow a reference to their political ideals. Neo-cons would love it because they equate bombing with liberating anyway. When a neo-con says “liberate” they of course always mean “bomb.”

    Think of it, Bush-lovers and Bush-haters could stand side by side cheering together for the ‘liberation’ of the visiting Lugnuts. I’m excited about all this. In fact, I’m already painting a big sign that reads “Loosen the Lugnuts!”

    If what I’ve said so far hasn’t convinced you that naming the team the ‘Liberators’ is the way to go over naming them the ‘Bombers’, I have one last point of persuasion to share with you. When you think about it, the name “Bombers” brings to mind those so-called ‘Bronx Bombers’, who we as Tigers fans should never dignify with even the slightest positive association…not even a completely coincidental one.

  40. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 3:28 pm | Permalink


  41. egpenet
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    The Bomber Restaurant

  42. Posted June 27, 2007 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    You sold me on Liberators, LiberatorsFan.

  43. Ken
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    How ’bout the “Real McCoys”.

  44. Amanda
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    The YpsiPLANTers… could harken to the days of the willow run bomber plant, the fact that our new stadium is going to be a model ‘green’ building, and the whole regrowth of ypsi, gardens, markets, etc….

    not that i’m biased towards this subject material.

    it’s old, it’s new, it’s growth, it’s positive… and, as i have LOTS of experience with garden and plant-based plays on words, i will happily be paid lots of money to become the marketing consulting and develop the team slogans.

  45. Pete
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    I like the ideas here. One thing I’d like to suggest however is the ability to double as a concert venue. Assuming it could be approved, that could really increase revenue to the city. I started thinking of this after recalling a concert i attended at Oldsmobile Park in Lansing. Ypsi has a ton of bands that play in bars currently, and I think we could really capitalize on a larger venue. The rest of the infrastructure is already there (bars, restaurants, etc)

  46. mark
    Posted June 28, 2007 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    I’ve been reading up on General Sports, but I’m still a bit unclear as to their business model. Specifically, I can’t figure out if they actually own teams, or if they just aquire teams and set operations in motion for investor groups.

  47. brian r
    Posted June 28, 2007 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    My mistake.

    General Sports sold the Fort Wayne Wizards to Hardball Capital of Atlanta in February of last year. They owned them from 1999 to 2006.

  48. mark
    Posted June 28, 2007 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    I can go with Liberators, but with one slight alteration.

    the “Ypsitucky Liberators”

    And I’m not kidding (like I was in my comment about needing to stop this whole thing before we found baseball players in our homes, seducing our wives and using our tooth brushes).

  49. Posted June 28, 2007 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Jim-I’ve honestly always wanted to be a peanut man, thanks for noticing. This idea has me extremely giddy. I love baseball, and as soon as they give me the opportunity, I will sign up for season tickets, along with concession space at the park. Has anyone set up the website, http://www.iftheybuilditypsiwillcome.com?

  50. Posted July 3, 2007 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    There’s a semi-pro football team that’s been practicing at and using Willow Run’s Devlin Field for their home games.

    Baseball sounds good to me.

  51. Robert
    Posted July 3, 2007 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Yes, that team over at Devlin Field is the Michigan Twisters.

  52. Posted July 3, 2007 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Here is their wiki entry:

  53. Posted September 11, 2007 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Now that I think of it, the Yip-Yips might be an even better choice for the team name. Can you imagine those Sesame Street mascots walking around during the games and the fun the kids would have with them? They could be miked so that whenever the home team scored they’d go into that insane “Yip Yip Yip, Uh huh, Uh huh, Uh huh!”

  54. cra
    Posted October 5, 2007 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    to mark and brian
    any idea of what this park would look like and i sure hope this happens as it would be a real shot in the arm for ypsi !

  55. Robert
    Posted October 14, 2007 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Kalamazoo and Traverse City have teams in the independent professional Frontier League. I guess Oakland County is getting a team now too. They’re building a stadium for that team in Waterford I think.

  56. John Horshok
    Posted November 9, 2007 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I am an grad of EMU and have been a partner/operator in several minor league teams(one in Michigan) and am exporing another now in Va. Let me know if you need any directional help/advice on the Independent League approach.
    Good Luck and Thanks.

  57. mark
    Posted November 11, 2007 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the note, John. I’ll pass your contact information along to folks I know who are involved in this.

  58. Robert
    Posted July 23, 2008 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    It seems to be it would make sense to just put together an amateur team as soon as possible and start challenging similar teams around the region to a few games. I think a good number of people would turn out to watch something like that on a Saturday afternoon or Friday evening. Some local concessionaire might even be able to sell a few sodas and hot dogs. I’ll try out for left field.

  59. Posted July 23, 2008 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I’m totally up for that, Robert! Let’s just start playing at Water Street.

  60. Posted August 8, 2008 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Well, I was out for a bike ride last Sunday afternoon and I rode down south of Water Street, along the trail on the north side of the river across from Water Street park, and about 20 meters from the bridge in a litle tucked away spot was this dude who had just finished up with a hooker. He was pulling up his pants and fumbling with his belt as I rode by. The hooker was turned towards the river. They looked startled and I just said, “Hey, how’s it going!”, and the guy answered, “OK!”. I just rode past as quickly as I could.

    This is an awesome trail, and I encourage you runners/bikers/walkers to check it out. The more productive use it gets, the less hookers and crack heads will use it.

    If nothing else, it makes for a much more interesting run/ride!

    Also, keep playing the disc golf course at Water Works. The whole point was to keep it safer through more foot traffic around there. I’ve played with a drug dealer hanging out with his car running in that parking lot, but if we keep showing up, they’ll move elsewhere. I’m telling you, it’s a great park and has potential to be a great area. Go there this weekend!

    Hey Robert, when are we going to start our baseall team? If we build it…

  61. Old Goat
    Posted August 8, 2008 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    CG, How do you know he was a crack head?

  62. Posted August 8, 2008 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Oh, not not sure if the guy with a hooker was a crack head. In fact, I don’t think this guy was. But I’ve seen them in the area. I don’t think I wrote that or meant that. I don’t really proofread my comments, I just write ’em as I would say them. I’m just telling a story and hoping to get people out to enjoy the area and push out some of the things I’ve seen – that’s all. Maybe the guy with a hooker wasn’t even with a hooker, he just was taking his girlfriend for a romantic roll in the bushes by the Huron river on a Sunday afternoon. But maybe if more of us ran or biked or walked through the area he would choose a less public place. I’d enjoy it more or maybe even be able to take my daughter there someday without worrying about that kind of stuff. Or maybe I should give up, stop caring and move back to Ann Arbor.

  63. Robert
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Is there a place there we could mow a baseball field into? I’d be up for a bunch of those interested getting together and throwing a ball around.

    Another good reason to call a beer meeting at Corner Brewery.

  64. egpenet
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    There’s already a baseball diamond in Water Works Park, just across the footbridge from Water Street. There are shelters, too.

  65. Posted August 11, 2008 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    I’d definitely come watch. Suddenly become an avid Tiger fan, kind of out of the blue… But it’d be more fun to watch something nearby (and free).

  66. Old Goat
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    No offense Cousin G. Used to live in A2, grew up there, but cheap housing got me into Ypsi in 1975 and I’ve been here ever since, picking up broken glass, mowing neighbors yards, keeping eyes on things. Ypsi has it all, and is poised for the next housing boom with plenty of decent houses for first time buyers. Sit tight, things are about to improve!

  67. Posted August 11, 2008 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Old Goat – I grew up in A2 too, moved here for the same reasons, 5 years ago – I even mow my neighbor’s lawn too! I love Ypsi for so many reasons but certain things get me down from time to time. But the good far outweighs the bad.

    eg is right about that field right there. It is real nice too, it even has lights (that I’m sure don’t work anymore but sure look cool)…BUT how sweet would it be if we could somehow get them to work and we could play at night?

    Robert – I say we do it. We could play softball instead, but there is something to be said about a pickup game of hardball. What we need to do is just pick a day and time and do it. I don’t know of many cities who play pickup baseball but it sure sounds like a good thing for Ypsi to do.

    Lisele – very cool!

  68. Posted May 15, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    For anyone interested, a professional baseball team is playing its home games in Ypsilanti this season. They are the Sliders and they play at EMU’s Oestrike Stadium.

    Check out their game schedule:


  69. Major
    Posted August 13, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Whatever happened to the minor league stadium that Brian Robb and Steve Pierce were going to build on Water Street?

  70. KKT
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Someone crashed into Brian Robb’s radio station next to DejaVu.


  71. Watching Ypsi
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Scroll down to the comments in this Ann Arbor.com article on the Suv Crashing into the radio station. Pretty funny.

  72. XXX
    Posted February 7, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I like how Brian says he doesn’t have the time to update his constituents via his blog, as he promised that he would, but he has time the DJ for an audience of zero.

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