With the recent decline in attendance for the London Rippers, a first-year team in the Frontier League, the Frontier League has decided to make a new team to finish out the rest of the year. The new team will be called the Road Warriors. This is not related in any way to the Road Warriors who appear from time to time in the Atlantic League whenever a travel team is needed to balance out the schedule for an even number of teams. According to articles familiar with the situation, the Rippers are ceasing operations.
The Frontier League already has changed the team on its official website (http://www.frontierleague.com/team-info.php). According to articles quoting Bill Lee, the Frontier League’s commissioner, here are several things which have happened:
- Players will be declared free agents
- A new entity is being created by the other owners to replace the Rippers
- The players will be given an opportunity to be on this new entity, the Road Warriors
- A new field manager will be named
- It was reported that the team’s acting GM/field manager was absent in recent days, and he will not be with the new entity
- The Frontier League is going to alter the schedule to accommodate the new travel team entity
- The Road Warriors will play “home” games in Lake Erie, home of the Frontier League’s Crushers team
The Rippers team has undergone several incarnations in its history in the Frontier League. They started out as the Slippery Rock Sliders, then became the Midwest Sliders (Ypsilanti) which was a travel team, then became the Oakland County (Michigan) Cruisers and played most games on the road, suspended for 2011, and then new ownership took over to make it the Rippers for 2012.
Here are the articles of interest to get more information on this situation:
Obviously, many of you have thoughts and opinions on this issue as it adds yet another team to the list of failed operations in independent baseball since the 1993 inception. Most of the Frontier League’s franchises are solid operations, especially considering that the league is the only one to exist for all 20 seasons of independent pro baseball’s current version. Hopefully the owners find a solution which is amenable to keep the schedule balance in the Frontier League for 2013.
As for the lack of revenue, many people cited the “Ripper” logo press attention as a concern going back to the end of 2011 when it was introduced. It goes to show that controversy, just for the sake of short-term publicity, ultimately leads to problems with independent baseball teams. They need more revenue streams on which to have a much more solid foundation. Hopefully future independent baseball teams (in any league) will realize that must offer more than just “local, affordable, family-friendly entertainment” which is dependent on sponsorships, “butts in seats” and beer sales. That model is tenuous, and having more revenue streams which take advantage of already-existing operations can help them weather the storm during their first years in operation. More on these revenue streams will be reported in the upcoming weeks and during the off-season.
Independentbaseball.net wishes the best to the players and employees of the Rippers who lose out on the ability to be involved with professional baseball due to factors beyond their skills. Hopefully they find new places to ply their skills in pro baseball in 2013.
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