November 01, 2004

Phils will not block Lehigh Valley farm club

WFMZ-TV reported Thursday that the Phillies have given the green light to allowing affiliated baseball in the Lehigh Valley.

WFMZ reported that the move comes because of a very positive relationship the team has with Craig Stein and Joe Finley, co-owners of the Reading Phillies, who’ve been trying to bring minor league baseball to the Lehigh Valley for several years.

A number of possibilities have been explored, and the announcement could mean that Allentown will move closer to securing a $12 million state grant for a new baseball stadium now that the area has the support of an affiliated team.

Finley said he and Stein plan to bring a full-season team to the Valley by the 2007 season if they win the grant to build a stadium on Agere Systems property in east Allentown, the Morning Call reported.

He has not identified the team or its minor league level, though legislators involved in the negotiations have said it is a Class A team that will become a Phillies affiliate through a leaguewide reshuffling of minor league teams, the Call reported.

The Phillies have long held a territorial veto on the Lehigh Valley, which has grown into a substantial market for minor league baseball, larger and more economically viable than many AAA cities.

Several locations have been explored over the last few years, including sites inside Allentown and several industrial sites in nearby Bethlehem.

Space and cost are the biggest obstacles for both cities, and it’s possible that a stadium could land in a neighboring township near Route 22 or the Lehigh Valley Airport.

The Allentown Ambassadors, of the Independent Northern League, were the last team to play in the city, but folded before the start of the 2004 season.


At 1:34 PM, Blogger Tom G. said...

Did the report say if the Phils would move one of their existing minor league teams or add another one?

Tom G

At 2:09 PM, Blogger Jason Weitzel said...

You caught me just as I was clearing up a couple things in the original. It's not certain whether it will be a Phillies team or not (I misstated this) but legislators involved in the negotiations have reported that it is a Class A team that will become a Phillies affiliate through a leaguewide reshuffling of minor league teams.

Personally, here's what I'd do if I had the resources. I'd stick a Yankees affiliate in Bethlehem, on the site of the old steelworks near the historic district.

At 1:55 PM, Blogger Tom G. said...

A "league-wide shuffling"? Interesting. I think.

Tom G


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