Management On Lease Extension: ‘We Plan To Continue It’
In 2015, Jamestown Jammers fans had to adjusting to a new type of baseball.
For the better part of 75 years, minor league baseball was being played in Jamestown every summer. In 2015, however, that changed when the new collegiate league baseball started being played at Russell E. Diethrick Jr. stadium following the departure of the Single-A affiliate to West Virginia.
In 2015, the Jammers first played in the Prospect League, which is a wooden bat league consisting of college players looking for the minor-league experience while not losing their amateur status. In 2016 and this year, the Jammers played in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, which consist of players who must have remaining collegiate eligibility available.
ROC Ventures have been the owners and operators of the Jammers since the change in ownership in 2014. The business is headquartered in Franklin, Wis., which is a suburb of Milwaukee. Dan Kuenzi, ROC Ventures sports and performance division president, said it took Jamestown residents a little time to adapt to the new style of baseball being played.
“We got off to a slow start with attendance. A lot of fans were originally concerned about the product being put out with summer collegiate baseball after having been around minor league players for a long time. I’m not sure they knew the talent the collegiate players were offering,” Kuenzi said. “Once they did come out, the fan base started to build. We had better attendance this year, which culminated with the championship series.”
Kuenzi, who also oversees two additional collegiate baseball teams in Indiana, an indoor professional soccer team and an Independent Minor League team in Milwaukee, said he was in New York State for the championship series, with the first game being played in Little Falls and games two and three being played in Jamestown. He said during the regular season, he tries to watch the Jammers in person twice for a stretch of games.
“I usually try to make a couple trips, usually at the beginning of the season and then in the middle,” he said.
Kuenzi said the biggest challenge to managing the Jammers is not being local. He said ROC Ventures is helped with the Jammers day-to-day operations by the great staff in Jamestown.
“We have to really rely on the staff and we are fortunate to have found (Jammers Manager) Anthony Barone, a local guy who knows the community and knows the people of Jamestown. He has a good feel for what is needed there and he has done a tremendous job embracing the community,” Kuenzi said. “The players go out into the community, whether it is to help the local food bank or read to kids at the library or being involved in some of the schools. We have a school-day game that has been really well supported. Obviously, with not being their everyday, it is really important to have a quality staff and we are very fortunate with the folks we have there.”
With two years left on the lease for Diethrick Park, Kuenzi said they are thinking about an extension.
“It has been wonderful working with the Mayor (Sam Teresi) and his staff. They completely support what we are trying to do,” Kuenzi said. “They’ve helped us out in so many ways to be successful. We love the relationship we have with them and we plan to continue it.”