Minor League Baseball Comes to Ypsilanti & Washtenaw County

The following comes by way of local baseball enthusiast David Palmer.

Friday marks Opening Day for the Midwest Sliders of Ypsilanti, game time is 7:05pm. The Sliders will play the 2009 Frontier League season at Oestrike Stadium, on the campus of Eastern Michigan University. Forty-four, family friendly home games fill the 2009 schedule. The Sliders are the first and only minor league baseball team to play in Southeast Michigan.

Affordability, a family friendly environment, and passion for the game of baseball are hallmarks of minor league baseball. Sliders tickets can be purchased at the gate before any home game, or by visiting their office located inside the Key Bank Building in historic downtown Ypsilanti. Seats are $8 for adults, and $7 for children, seniors and EMU students. A “flex pack” 12 game coupon book can be purchased for $72, and a season ticket is only $315.

Excited with the prospect of building a permanent home for minor league baseball in Ypsilanti, a group of local investors have raised $25,000 towards purchasing the team and building a new stadium in Ypsilanti devoted to providing year round sports and entertainment. The ownership group is actively recruiting investors and fans of baseball in Washtenaw County. A new stadium will to act as an anchor for the continued development and revitalization in Eastern Washtenaw County. Interested investors should contact the Midwest Sliders main office for more details.

America’s pastime nicely compliments the arts and entertainment offerings that are already hallmarks in Ypsilanti. With thriving summer festivals and car shows, along with the offerings of the Riverside Arts Center, What is That Art Gallery and the popular Shadow Art Fair, minor league baseball is another positive reason for residents of Washtenaw County to spend their entertainment dollars locally, rather than traveling far from home for fun family entertainment. Before the 2009 season, baseball fans in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti had to travel to Detroit, Lansing or Toledo to watch a game and have a hot dog. Now a short drive via Packard, Washtenaw or Ellsworth will connect you with Hewitt Road and residents are minutes away from a game.

The Sliders look forward to seeing you at Oestrike Stadium tomorrow to cheer on the team as they look to beat the Windy City Thunderbolts on Opening Day. Don’t forget to bring your baseball mitt to catch a foul ball!

Ypsilanti Sliders Opening Day
29 May 2009
Game time: 7:05pm

IMPORTANT LINKS:
Ypsilanti Sliders
Season Schedule
Directions

CONTACT & TICKET INFORMATION:
Midwest Sliders of Ypsilanti
301 W Michigan Ave., Suite 101
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
734-482-4920 x22

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25 Comments

  1. Posted May 28, 2009 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Mark!

    I look forward to fans of your site coming to the game tomorrow. Perhaps we should all wear name tags with our posting handles on them. I’d be thrilled to meet some of you opinionated folks in person =-)

    -aka: dp in exile, dp in ypsi

  2. Posted May 28, 2009 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Super sweet!!!!! Go Sliders!!!!!

  3. Posted May 28, 2009 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    That’s awesome! Even awesome-r would be if the investors raise enough money to buy the team (or some team) and keep minor league baseball here! God I wish I had money!!!!

  4. cra
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    their is absolutly no reason why ypsi shouldnt have a team of its own and we need to pack the park on friday as our sliders are coming off of a winning road trip !

  5. Ol' E Cross
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Okay. So here’s my question/concern. I’m trying, really, to be enthused about and imagine the possibilities of a ballpark. As little as I like baseball, it sounds nice. But…

    As I understand it, based solely on internet groping, MLB doesn’t like franchises being established within a certain proximity to other franchises. I.e., the Detroit Tigers means the Detroit Tiggers probably won’t be allowed to exist within a certain radius.

    So, in steps the “Frontier League” which has no ties with MLB and, as such, isn’t exactly a minor league team in the sense that most of us would assume (i.e., being associated with the major league). It’s more of an outlaw league (which is kind of cool, if ill fated).

    A few local college ballplayers described it to me as being half a level up from what’s currently being played at EMU. Something across between a college all star team and a college “nothing better to do with your summer” team.

    Again, that’s fine. Here’s my pragmatic concern.

    The Frontier League has been around since 1993. It’s only in the midwest. It has no official ties to MLB. It appears that it may be a bit oppositional to MLB. So, let’s say we build a stadium for this minor, minor independent league team. Let’s say the Frontier League, as new and/or oppositional leagues often do, goes a bit defunct in a few years. Let’s say MLB has no interest in placing a franchise in Ypsi, in a stadium built for the pirate league. What’s that leave us on Water Street?

    My insufficient source on the Frontier League is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frontier_League

    To summarize: Can a more informed proponent of minor league baseball in Ypsilanti give citizens any assurance that if the unassociated from MLB Frontier League fails as an organization they can guarantee or even reasonably anticipate an alternative use for a stadium on Water Street?

    Which we all should know is where this is trying to go…

    Please help convince me that a stadium dedicated to something unassociated with MLB is a lasting solution. Sincerely. I get the Toledo Mudhens. I just don’t get this. Help me get it.

    Still, go Sliders. Woot woot!

  6. Posted May 29, 2009 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    I get your concern, OEC, and it’s something that I’ve thought about as well, but if we’re talking about something that’s completely funded privately, I don’t know that it matters. My only concern would be if we, the tax payers of Ypsi, were being asked to donate the land or pay for the stadium. As I’ve been told repeatedly now that that’s not the case, though, I’m OK with it.

  7. Ol' E Cross
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Okay. Thanks.

  8. Paw
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    I don’t want to start a fight, but how about we call them the Fighting Ypsituckians?

  9. BrianR
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Here’s the deal:

    The Midwest Sliders of Ypsilanti will eventually become the Oakland County Cruisers and move to Waterford, Michigan. They broke ground on their stadium a few weeks ago. Depending on how financing goes, it will be open next spring or spring 2011. This has never been about keeping the Sliders in Ypsilanti. This has always been about supporting the Sliders and building on that base.

    In November of last year, the managing partner of the Sliders met with me and a few of my fellow baseball enthusiasts to discuss the future. One of the outcomes of these discussions was a partnership. If I can come up with half of the seed money for a team, the parent company of the Sliders (Diamond Heroes of Southeastern Michigan) will put up the other half of the money.

    Ypsilanti would have a team in the Prospect League — not the Frontier League.

    The Prospect League used to be the Central Illinois Collegiate League. It was purchased last year and expanded to 11 teams. The CICL started in 1963 and has produced many stars over the past 45 years including Kirby Puckett (Twins Hall of Famer), Bryan Bullington (Pirates’ #1 in 2002 & first overall pick in the draft), Ryan Howard (NL MVP in 2006), Mike Schmidt (Phillies Hall of Famer), and Joe Niekro among others. It is a collegiate league like the New York – Penn League and the Great Lakes League.

    The Prospect League is made up of teams made up of players who are not professionals (i.e. they still have college eligibility). They have not signed contracts. As a result, they don’t get paid. The advantage of the Prospect League is that depending on how a team hustles for players, you can end up with college superstars on your team. This could result in a very high quality of baseball.

    Diamond Heroes of Southeastern Michigan is composed of 7 LLCs:
    – Oakland County Cruisers Baseball, LLC
    – Summit Diamond Sports & Entertainment, LLC
    – OC Cruiserwear, LLC
    – Cruisers Acadamies & Camps, LLC
    – Cruisers Sports Consulting, LLC
    – Diamond Heroes of Southeastern Michigan Collegiate Baseball, LLC
    – Southeastern Michigan Community Baseball Foundation

    In April of this year, we threw a big meet & greet at Frenchie’s in Depot Town. Somewhere between 150 and 200 people showed up for free food generously provided by Linda French and her local Council member. The goal was to start the buzz and have a successful season. A stadium rendering was even unveiled just to create some added chaos.

    So that’s where we are. We need to continue raising capital in order for this to happen. We are racing against everyone else in the Midwest that wants to own a piece of minor league baseball. I have an unbelievable amount of detailed financial data that I’d be willing to share with interested investors. We would love checks in the range of ten grand, but are more than willing to accept investments of five hundred or a thousand dollars. Part of my pitch is this is about investing in Ypsilanti. The Green Bay Packers are a publicly owned professional football team made up mostly of residents from Green Bay, WI. That’s the model I’d like to see here in Ypsilanti.

    If you want more information, drop me an email.

    Okay. So here’s my question/concern. I’m trying, really, to be enthused about and imagine the possibilities of a ballpark. As little as I like baseball, it sounds nice. But…

    As I understand it, based solely on internet groping, MLB doesn’t like franchises being established within a certain proximity to other franchises. I.e., the Detroit Tigers means the Detroit Tiggers probably won’t be allowed to exist within a certain radius.

    If I wanted to buy the Lansing Lugnuts and move them to Ypsilanti, then you are correct that Mike Illich could block this. Since this is independent baseball, Mr. Illich can’t do anything about it. Take that pizza guy.

    So, in steps the “Frontier League” which has no ties with MLB and, as such, isn’t exactly a minor league team in the sense that most of us would assume (i.e., being associated with the major league). It’s more of an outlaw league (which is kind of cool, if ill fated).

    The Frontier League is the equivalent ot high-A ball (e.g. Lansing Lugnuts). You can see a list of Frontier League players who played in the bigs HERE. Clay Zavada of the Arizona Diamondbacks has the greatest mustache since Rollie Fingers.

    Attendance has increased dramatically in the past 15 years. The Washington Wild Things of Southwestern Pennsylvania drew 154K, the Traverse City Beach Bums drew 194K, the Southern Illinois Miners drew 218K, the Gateway Grizzlies drew 190K, and the Rockford Riverhawks drew 138K. That’s over 45 dates — at least 3,000 people per game, more in most cases. The Chillicothe Paints were the smallest draw last year with only 67K, but that’s still 1,500 per game.

    A few local college ballplayers described it to me as being half a level up from what’s currently being played at EMU. Something across between a college all star team and a college “nothing better to do with your summer” team.

    That’s not true since the Frontier League is made up of professional players playing at a high-A ball level.

    Again, that’s fine. Here’s my pragmatic concern.

    The Frontier League has been around since 1993. It’s only in the midwest. It has no official ties to MLB. It appears that it may be a bit oppositional to MLB. So, let’s say we build a stadium for this minor, minor independent league team. Let’s say the Frontier League, as new and/or oppositional leagues often do, goes a bit defunct in a few years. Let’s say MLB has no interest in placing a franchise in Ypsi, in a stadium built for the pirate league. What’s that leave us on Water Street?

    This isn’t about a stadium at Water Street. To be honest, the price of property is way out of my price range. More importantly, a stadium would take up at least 6 acres. At only $3 to $4 million to build, the taxes would never come close to paying the bond debt per acre that is already due down there.

    This would be a privately financed stadium owned by the same people who own the team. Baseball is a small part of the impact a stadium could have here. Think of the lack of places between Detroit and Jackson that can host outdoor concerts. Think of the recreation opportunties for the City. Think of the how we could work with EMU and give them a new, modern home for their baseball team.

    Minor league baseball is nuts. The promotions can be off the wall. It’s an incredible atmosphere whether you like baseball or not. We had a nice meeting last night to talk about some of these things, and if we can pull them off, it could be awesome.

    Finally, perhaps the greatest thing about minor league baseball and the Sliders in particular is they’ll let anyone throw out the first pitch.

    The Sliders are 5-2 having won both games of a double header last night. Everyone loves a winner. I hope to see everyone tonight.

  10. Posted May 29, 2009 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I’ve been looking forward to this for a few weeks. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make tonight’s home-opener, but I’ll be there tomorrow!

  11. Curt Waugh
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Mark, more to OEC’s point: Whether or not any public money is tied up a land purchase or a new stadium build, what happens if this league goes belly-up? Are we stuck with a dinosaur? What the heck are we going to do with a dedicated baseball stadium? If the league goes south (literally or figuratively), the property would be foreclosed upon and it becomes everybody’s problem. No?

    If you build a regular old building and it goes into foreclosure, chances are that somebody out there might have use for it. But a baseball stadium?

    For that matter, why can’t they just keep leasing space from EMU? Isn’t this supposed to be a new era of frugality?

  12. Publius
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I don’t think a Frontier League team could generate the type of revenue that would recoup the losses of Waterstreet. However, if/when the Cobo deal fails, why not the Water Street Convention Center. It makes more sense than the Rock Showplace in Novi, which is nowhere near the airport. Just a thought.

  13. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    How many people can the EMU bleachers hold? I see it all the time, and it looks pretty small in my memory.

  14. dp in exile
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Dirtgrain: just over 1300

    http://www.midwestsliders.com/stadium/stadiumFactCheck.html

  15. degutails
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Akron, Ohio, got a minor league team (it’s closer to Cleveland than Ypsi is to Detroit, so it has to be an independent league) and it revitalized the downtown. They use the stadium for all sorts of stuff. It’s been amazing, and I like minor league ball and love to go to games, so you’d think I wouldn’t be amazed. But it’s impacted everything. Caution is fine, but inertia is another thing entirely.

    Meredith

  16. Curt Waugh
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Akron’s population is almost 10 times that of Ypsilanti, but still this might be a case-study worth, well… studying.

    Maybe we can get Springsteen to play in Ypsi again.

  17. Posted May 29, 2009 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    I think between Ypsi and Ann Arbor we have about 120K. I’m not sure what Akron has… As for the baseball game, I couldn’t go tonight. I was getting perilously close to getting a ticket for my out of control lawn, and, when I saw an opportunity to borrow a lawn mower from a neighbor, I had to take it. Hopefully they won… As for baseball in general, EMU has a team, right? Couldn’t we just all start going to their games? Or don’t they play in the evenings, when families could attend?

  18. Mark H.
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Yes, EMU has a baseball team, a very good one in fact. But the college baseball season is on a very peculiar schedule compared to what most fans think of as baseball: the season starts in the winter and is over by….a couple of weeks ago. Yes, EMU baseball is done. Season’s over already, just as it’s getting to be warm out all the time. So the potential for EMU baseball to develop a strong local fan base is minimal.

    Part of the hopes for an Ypsi professional team is not just the cities of Ypsi and AA, but also the population of Ypsi Township and other parts of the Detroit metro area that are relatively close to Ypsi — areas from which, it’s hoped, a lot of fans eager to see live professional baseball at a cheap price, during the real baseball season, could be drawn. Don’t know if that’s realistic, but it’s a hope. Whether this league of ball is compelling enough to draw sports fans away from the tube is another question.

    Go Sliders! Go Eagles! Go Ypsi!

  19. degutails
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    Well, I looked it up, and the Aeros (I have been misspelling the name in my head for years, as it turns out) are affiliated with MLB. I don’t know how, because Akron and Cleveland are close to each other, but never mind that. I apologize for my error.

    Mark H. is absolutely right about the seasons, and having sat through five Little League seasons (more skewed towards summer than college ball can be), it’s bloody cold out there sometimes during the college season. Having previously lived in a city with a minor league team, I can say that it was the among the best entertainment I’ve had, and I wasn’t a big baseball fan at the start.

    Go support the Sliders, and support a team here – the kids need something to shoot for, and it will be fun.

    Meredith

  20. Posted May 29, 2009 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Someone just sent me a text message from the game, telling me that 187 people showed… That’s pretty great, especially considering the dark clouds overhead at game time.

  21. Ol' E Cross
    Posted May 31, 2009 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    BrianR,

    Thanks much for the response and details. As someone who hasn’t paid to see baseball since a game at Tiger Stadium in 1987, I have to defer to you and others on the potential audience and impact. Here’s hoping…

    In the meantime, go Red Wings! Up 2-0. I pity anyone who has to miss the Wings stealing game three from the Penguins at home this on Tuesday night.

    Ah, it’s a good time of year in Little Detroit.

  22. Publius
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I wish I could have gone to the opener, but I had to attend the Estabrook Carnival fundraiser. I will get there!

  23. Posted June 1, 2009 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    “The Godless Ypsitucky Abortionists”

    Now that’s a team name people could really get behind.

  24. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Again, I’m not a baseball fan but jeez, Meredith,

    “the kids need something to shoot for”

    after BrianR’s:

    “They have not signed contracts. As a result, they don’t get paid.”

    I seriously thought I was cynical, but that we build a stadium so kids can shoot for the chance to not get paid for working in it?

    BrianR says, “The promotions can be off the wall.”

    As I can poorly deduce, this brand of baseball pays players (aka workers) nothing while giving investors (owners) returns that are “off the wall” while inspiring our young children to be unpaid workers producing profits for others that are uncalculatable.

    I must be adding wrong. Meredith or BrianR, please help me with my math on who works and doesn’t get paid…

  25. cra
    Posted June 7, 2009 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    when the sliders return home on the 9th get to the oek so that at least the huron valley can dispell the naysayers who think this is a bad baseball market . btw ypsilanti has ended its season series with the 2 time champion t/bolts and went 3-3 so they are definatly worth watching . the sliders are 6 games into the home slate and emu can draw better than what the sliders can which shouldnt happen . go sliders and see you at the oek !

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