No Newark Bears in 2009?

The Star-Ledger‘s Steve Politi and Jeffrey Mays just published a story this weekend about how the Newark Bears are not in a good place, financially, and could be on the way out. As a big baseball fan and someone who attends a few Bears games every season, it’s something that would definitely create a hole in my baseball habit, especially as we go into a season where both the Mets and Yankees will have less fewer [ahem, grammar…] tickets available at their new stadiums, and prices are going up for those teams.
Politi and Mays report on some facts that should probably not be too surprising, including the ever-unfortunate “philanthropy” quote from current team owner Marc Berson, which has about as much surety behind it as does the reverse effect of a pro sports team’s owner giving a “vote of confidence” to a coach or general manager. Over the years, it’s typically been pretty easy to walk up on game day and buy a pretty darn good seat (not that there’s really a bad one in the house), but that lies at the core of what the problem is. While it is probably nice to walk up with your significant other (as I did earlier this year, getting second row tickets behind the visiting team’s bench) or your kids, it doesn’t push much desire for people to buy a block of ten tickets, or season tickets, even.

Obviously, some people have chosen to throw the “white people in Newark” statement into the fray, which only makes matters worse, but there’s obviously a bigger issue of *anyone* purchasing tickets to see the Bears on a regular basis, irrelevant of race. All that said, having the Bears in town is definitely part of making Newark a better place for everyone, whether it be those who live there, those who work there, or those who like to dine or be entertained, isn’t it?
Beyond the simple economics of going to the game, it’s probably important to discuss how baseball – as a sport, not one particular league – is positioned to younger generations of any race these days. While there have been a number of great articles written on the subject, the Seattle P-I‘s Larry Stone wrote a great article back in August of 2005 about how there was a significant change in the population breakdown of the sport of baseball, as a whole. At the time, there were five teams – count ’em, five – that had not one African-American player on their rosters, and a total of 9% of all MLB players were African-American – half of the number of players from 1994. In 2008, it’s slipped to about 8.2%, according to a recent study, and the trend doesn’t appear to be reversing. That’s brought about discussions that baseball hadn’t done a good job “marketing” itself to the African-American community, something that a statistician might point out as potentially valid in this discussion, given the population breakdown of Newark, according to the 2000 Census. Although, as the Star-Ledger‘s Dan Graziano wrote earlier this week, this year’s World Series features a number of longtime players and stars who are African-American, and calls this a “huge opportunity” for baseball to change the way it’s perceived.
What about you, Baristanet readers? Do you (or your families, friends or kids) attend a Bears game here or there? Would losing the Newark Bears be a big thorn in the side for the city, and for baseball in general?

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  1. My boyfriend and his brother usually attend at least one game per season. It is an annual brothers’ night out, and they’d surely miss it. The brother, especially, is an avid baseball fan. I felt bad when I saw this article in the paper.

  2. I thought the real key part of Politi’s column was his noting that the cost of building Bears Stadium was huge in comparison to other minor league ball parks.
    Not the brightest path to pursue in a league which doesn’t even have formal affiliation with major league clubs, now is it? So now I’m supposed to feel sorry for Rick Cerone? Really, it’s much more fun to see a minor league game in either Somerset or Lakewood (even with the gangbangers shooting it out there just a few blocks away).

  3. I can get to a Jackals game by foot or bike. Why would I venture into Newark to see Minor League Baseball?
    One more thing: both the Mets and Yankees will have FEWER tickets available at their new stadiA.
    If you count them, use fewer; if you measure it, use less. Fewer calories, less filling.

  4. Walter – great points about traveling to the games… Duly, and snarkily, noted your grammar adjustment above – forgot about that one. Stadiums is perfectly acceptable, so say both my grammar hounds and the AP.
    cathar – I’m a big fan of the Lakewood spot as well, but when it comes to this team, I always think of the St. Paul Saints, who draw decently and would show up with a “major” player or two from time to time, like the Bears. But agreed, it’s less about feeling sorry for Rick Cerone and more about the fact that the stadium isn’t exactly bringing in crowds.

  5. I support Newark in my own special way: County Taxes.
    Because of that, I journey to the Jackals because of the warm feeling I have of my dear Alma Mater.
    (Although, having gone to Rutgers, you’d think I would feel the same about Newark… And you’d be wrong.)

  6. Do major league teams subsidize their minor league affiliates? If so, could a major league team be persuaded to locate one of their minor league teams in Newark?

  7. I actually have my own Glenmorangie, Mellon Brush, three little bottles in a “gift set” I found at Glasgow Airport once. (And still, for someday, that bottle of “hot” ginger ale I brought back from SC for you.)
    Laserfool, my shots need updating. Therefore I’d never willingly or knowingly get nearer than a mile to probably the ultimate in local loathsomeness, a party at which you haplessly attempt to cavort and make play dates to soothe your blasted, lonely existence.
    You’ve also publicly asked this question before, you sad, bleating glutton for punishment..

  8. Hey Tom, that was pretty nifty, putting in those links to specific posts. How do you do that? I’ve tried but can’t get it to work.

  9. Laser”badguy,” if “fear” is defined as avoiding personal contact with your twerpy, idiotic, pathetic self, then I look forward to a lifetime of it.

  10. If you’re not prepared to miss me, lasersocialbutterfly, then why on earth did you ask if I was going? I’m sure there’ll be all manner of people who’ll gladly, promptly, even cougar-quickly, rebuff your social advances.

  11. walleroo, do you mean on Baristanet or any web page in general? You can link to a specific comment on Baristanet because they have anchors encoded. Click on the date and time of a comment and you’ll see the specific URL with the anchor designated by the number sign.

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