It’s the bottom of the ninth for a local minor league baseball team. If the Batavia Muckdogs cannot come up with a few thousand dollars by Friday, the 70-year-old baseball team could go under.
“When baseball leaves small towns it doesn't come back,” said Brian Paris, president of the Genesee County Baseball Club, which owns the team.
The NY-Penn League is requiring the Muckdogs to pay off its debt and save up some money if the team wants to play ball.
“Right now we need somewhere in the neighborhood of $130,000 to eliminate the current debt,” he said, “and we're looking into something of $250,000 to put into a contingency reserve."
Financial problems have been building up over the last two year. Paris blames mismanagement plus the rising costs of gas, food and electricity at the city-owned Dwyer Stadium. On top of that, the team has some of the lowest ticket prices in the New York Penn League and not the greatest attendance record.
“We had an attendance last year of approximately 45,000 people," Paris said.
The stadium holds 2,600 people.
“They usually won’t even have it half full for a regular game,” said Horace Wilder, a fan. “I don’t know why they don't come."
Wilder would know. He’s a season ticket holder and has been going to games since the team was formed in 1939. He says it’s an experience baseball fans can’t find anywhere else.
“Here you’re closer to the players,” he said. “You see just a good a game as you do in the professional, and it's a heck of a lot cheaper."
But the fans’ love of the game might not be enough to keep the Muckdogs in the community now.
“We're looking for someone in the Western New York area, a white knight, that can come in and say, ‘I understand what you're saying, and we want to preserve this character, and we want to preserve this history,’” Paris said.
City Manager Jason Molino says the city will continue to work with the Genesee County Baseball Club to come up with a plan to keep baseball in Batavia.