Opening day for Northern Nevada's Pacific Coast League franchise is scheduled for April, 2005.
The Pacific Coast League has now made it clear that it wants to place a franchise in Northern Nevada. Members of Sierra Nevada Baseball said they have a plan that can make that happen. The group consisting of Northern Nevada community leaders has been working with the PCL to bring a Triple A team to the area.
PCL president Branch B. Rickey announced on Friday at a press conference at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center that the PCL "desires to have Triple A baseball in the Northern Nevada area. We think this is a very logical place for our league."
Rickey is the grandson of Branch Rickey, who is best known for breaking the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Sierra Nevada Baseball's goal is to have a franchise in place and playing in a new 10,000-seat stadium by opening day, 2005. The group is working with H.O.K. architects on the design of the stadium. H.O.K. designed San Francisco's Pacific Bell Park and Fresno's new Triple A stadium.
Bruce Breslow of Sierra Nevada Baseball said the group is looking at alternatives on how to finance the stadium.
"We do not envision having to go to the ballot box," said Breslow on not having to ask local voters for financing.
But financing a stadium, which could cost $30 to $45 million will be a challenge. "We don't have the best answers, yet," Breslow said.
Sierra Nevada Baseball must first secure an agreement to purchase an exisiting PCL franchise. Breslow said the group has been in discussions with two or three existing franchises, but wouldn't name them. "We will not discuss this publicly," he said.
Breslow said the group should secure a franchise for the area within the next year.
Three possible sites for the stadium should be identified within the next three or four months, Breslow said. Sparks mayor Tony Armstrong made his pitch for the stadium to be built in his city on Friday.
The stadium will also be used for other community events such as state high school championships, Breslow said.
Major concerns for the site of the stadium will be traffic access and the ability to generate business development in the area. One of the major features of the stadium will be a general admission picnic area for families.
Breslow addressed the question of why will the Triple A franchise succeed when other Minor League teams in the area have failed.
He said the biggest reason why the Triple A team should succeed is its product.
"This is big-ticket entertainment," Breslow said. "The product is sensational in Triple A baseball."
Breslow compared Triple A baseball to having the caliber of a big-time boxing event every night for six months.
Another big reason why Triple A baseball in the area should succeed is the vision of the Sierra Nevada Baseball group, Breslow said.
No matter what franchise comes to the area, the team will be known as Sierra Nevada, Breslow said.
The Sierra Nevada Baseball group will also fans a chance to own the team.
Sierra Nevada Baseball managing partner C.J. Jones said the group will not fail in its effort to bring Triple A baseball to the area. "I promise you we will get this job done," Jones said.
Those interested in ownership or purchasing luxury boxes or box seats or those wanting more information can call 624-BALL (2255) or e-mail at SierraNVBaseball@aol.com.