More Independent Baseball Leagues?

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In recent months there has been much speculation on the start of entirely new independent baseball leagues.  The current ones are (in alphabetical order):


  • American Association
  • Atlantic League
  • Can Am League
  • Continental League
  • Frontier League
  • Golden League
  • Northern League
  • United League

 

In recent months, however, word has gotten out that new leagues want to start play in 2010 and 2011.  Here is the information:

 

Whenever these types of announcements happen in the sports industry, they set off several happenings:

  • Prospective players start calling to get more information about being able to play
  • Same with coaches and prospective front office executives
  • More established leagues tend to look at the “newcomer” with scorn, which is not to say that they wouldn’t want to take some of a new league’s top talent if possible (!)
  • The information becomes cluttered
  • People ask if the league is developmental, semi-pro, or full professional
  • Vendors for mandatory services (equipment, statistics, internet services, etc.) start calling and asking for sales
  • The press starts asking for clarification
  • Those in the sports business ask questions about the likelihood of profitability
  • Sports fans ask about ticket prices and what will make this new league unique (other than geographic proximity)

Having worked in the league offices of independent leagues and having lengthy discussions with many of the commissioners/presidents of independent leagues, IndependentBaseball.net knows that most start-up leagues are not aware of all of the “moving parts” and skills which need to be mastered in order to have a successful, and viable, league which can sustain over the long-term.

A successful independent baseball league requires many skills (and some luck) in order to be consistently profitable AND offer quality baseball which attracts fans and scouts alike year after year.  Here are just some of those needed assets:

  • Quality stadiums which provide safety, opportunity for multiple revenue streams, a “professional” feel, adequate parking, good concessions, fair prices, and ease of access for fans
  • Each team (whether franchise owned or league owned) needs local support from the business community, the city government, local “powers that be”, support from the local baseball community, and the local media
  • A league needs to ensure that each team has sufficient financial reserves in order to make it through the season.  Several independent minor league baseball teams in 2009 are not coming back in 2010 for this very reason.  Here is an extensive list of teams (through the end of 2008) which no longer operate for any number of reasons:  http://independentbaseballalumni.com/blog/information-on-all-previous-independent-baseball-leagues-and-teams/
  • The league needs to gain recognition from scouts and the affiliated Minor League community.   While Minor League Baseball may not embrace the independent leagues (such as when it comes to the Winter Meetings), but they recognize that the independent leagues offer a good service in terms of producing talent which the Minor Leagues need.  The sheer numbers of independent players who went onto the Minors in recent years prove this point
  • An independent league needs to stamp itself as “professional” as quickly as possible.  This is done by signing up for industry-recognized statistics services (which the baseball media accepts), has quality umpiring and managers, has timely reporting of scores/stats/transactions, has decent team websites, and runs a professional entertainment alternative for its fans.  Many of the failed leagues did not do this properly, so new leagues would be wise to study the failed independent baseball teams/leagues from 1993-2009 in order to ensure that they do not repeat bad history
  • A new independent league must have a solid business model which gives each team (even its “weakest link”) the best odds of turning a profit as quickly as possible

We welcome your comments on this post so long as they are relevant.  Please forward this post to your friends and social networking lists if they are significant baseball fans.  Please cite your references and any experiences you have with start up independent baseball leagues.

Should these three leagues (or any others) prove to be accepted by the professional community then they will be added to the resource pages of this website.

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There are several good books about the independent professional baseball leagues. You are welcome to see a list of suggestions through this link: Books

Get notified of upcoming independent baseball tryouts from either of these services: first service or the second service. Prospective players can find some helpful resources here

We will be providing a growing list of possibly helpful tips and suggestions on various baseball information. This will range from "how to" information about baseball skills all the way to helpful information for casual baseball fans. Please click the link for more information: Tips And How To Information

1 Comment

  1. What this post seems to suggest is that Indy Leagues need to be more like minor leagues than anything else. What may happen then is that the distinction becomes rather fuzy, and Indy Leagues loose whatever appeal they have, or become nothing more than stepping stones for owners and players looking to move on to the ‘official’ system.

    IMO, That is not the route to follow. What Indy Leagues need to show is that they are in fact a viable alternative to the greediness of MLB. What they need to show is that their first concern is being viable baseball teams, not money making schemes. For that , we already have MLB and there is no way that Indy Leagues will ever be able to compete with it, money making wise.

    Of course , when you see things like ‘Super Indy Baseball”s website, you suddenly wonder if they are really serious and living in a fantasy world of their own… If going for a super league like that, wouldn’t it be more worthwhile to try to engage several of the existing leagues?…

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