City: Baseball talks under way

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Negotiations to bring a Minor League Baseball team to Grand Junction are, indeed, under way.

After months of speculation, Grand Junction City Manager Laurie Kadrich confirmed late Monday afternoon in a five-sentence statement that the city is working with the Monfort Investment Group regarding a minor league franchise.

It’s believed the minor league team involved is the Casper Ghosts, the Rookie affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.

The investment group of Dick and Charlie Monfort, the general partners of the Rockies, bought a majority interest in the Ghosts in January.

“The only minor league organization that the Monfort Investment Group has an ownership in, that I am aware of, is the Casper Ghosts,” Jamie Hamilton, the chairman of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, said Monday.

The Ghosts are the only team in the Pioneer League that is owned by its parent Major League Baseball club.

Tim Ray, the executive director of the Ghosts, declined to comment Monday.

“I saw that (statement) as well. At this time, no comment,” he said.

A call to Casper Mayor Paul Bertoglio was not returned.

To leave Casper, the Monfort group would have to pay a reported $200,000 exit fee to the city of Casper, plus a $9,000 buyout to the Casper American Legion team, which subleases Mike Lansing Field to the pro club.

Monday’s statement said discussions will continue until Wednesday, when the Grand Junction City Council will go into executive session to hear a report on the negotiations.

At that time, the council could ask for additional discussions or could come out of executive session and vote on a contract. Executive sessions are not open to the public.

Nothing will be finalized until the council approves the contract at an open meeting. Kadrich is not granting any interviews or providing any additional details until the topic is on a City Council agenda, the statement said.

There is a City Council meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, but baseball was not on the agenda released Monday morning.

Hamilton, who until Monday afternoon had declined to comment about the prospect of professional baseball coming to Grand Junction, said as the JUCO World Series chairman, he has been kept apprised of the negotiations.

“The city has been good enough to keep us close to the negotiations to make sure that the nonprofit community event that we’ve enjoyed for 54 years will continue to experience its success,” he said.

The Casper Ghosts play in the eight-team Pioneer League for Advanced Rookie clubs. The other seven clubs are in Montana, Idaho and Utah.

The season begins two weeks after the Major League Baseball amateur draft in June and runs through early September.

The Rookie level is usually the first stop for players in their professional careers, with no more than 17 players on the 35-man roster age 21 or older.

Each team plays 76 games — 38 each home and away.

Hamilton has been involved in several other attempts to bring pro baseball to Grand Junction in recent years. He said the Monforts’ club could be the one that works in partnership with the other entities that call Suplizio Field home.

The stadium is in the midst of an $8.3 million upgrade, encompassing a new entrance to the grandstands, concession areas, restrooms, dugouts, ADA seating, first-base seats, pressbox and a hospitality level.

“I will tell you, this is the sixth organization that has approached us as far as having minor league baseball in Grand Junction,” Hamilton said. “Of the six, this has the greatest opportunity to succeed with the NJCAA World Series, the four high schools and (Colorado Mesa University).”



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