Casper Ghosts float into region as new Grand Junction Rockies

Goodbye, Casper Ghosts. Hello, Grand Junction Rockies.

The only thing standing in the way of a minor league baseball team settling in Grand Junction is Monday’s City Council vote.

The owners of the Casper Ghosts, the Monfort Investment Group, met with city officials in Casper, Wyo., on Friday. After that meeting, they announced that, pending Monday’s vote, the team will move to Grand Junction for the 2012 season.

On Monday’s council agenda is a resolution to ratify a lease agreement between the city and “GJR LLC” to use Suplizio Field for up to 30 years.

The agenda item says the team name is to be announced, but “GJR” stands for “Grand Junction Rockies,” according to a source, which the team will be called the first year. A fan contest would rename the team for the 2013 season.

Casper Mayor Paul Bertoglio said the Rockies wanted to move the club to a bigger market to develop a stronger fan base and generate higher attendance, the Casper Star Tribune reported Friday on its website.

The Ghosts were seventh in the Pioneer League in attendance in 2012, averaging only 1,296 fans per game. Ogden (Utah) averaged 3,442 fans a game this past season.

Suplizio Field is in the midst of an $8.3 million upgrade, which is scheduled to be completed by May 2012, and seats more than 10,000.

It’s the home of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, four District 51 high school teams and Colorado Mesa University. None of those seasons conflicts with the Pioneer League season.

The Tribune also reported the Monfort Group will pay a $200,000 buyout to the city of Casper.

Monday’s City Council vote follows an Oct. 5 directive to City Manager Laurie Kadrich to continue negotiations with the Monfort Investment Group, which includes Rockies owners Dick and Charlie Monfort. The Rockies are the parent club of the Ghosts.

The Ghosts had been in Casper since 2001, first called the Rockies, then renamed the Ghosts in 2007 to play off the city’s name and the cartoon character, Casper the Friendly Ghost. The eight-team Pioneer League has teams in Idaho, Montana and Utah.

The Pioneer League begins play two weeks after the June amateur draft, with the majority of players on those teams coming out of the draft.

Teams play a 76-game schedule, 38 at home, with the season ending in early September.


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