I've always thought that an Atlantic League team would do extremely well in Vermont and in August I did a blog posting on my other blog about why I think an AL team would work in Vermont.
I've emailed the Atlantic League numerous times about looking into it. So far emails have fell on deaf ears and no interest has been taken. Some of that may be do to the fact the last New England based franchise in Atlantic League, the Nashua Pride left the league in 2006 (for the CAN-AM League) and ultimately folded. Also, the New England area is saturated with minor league teams.
The Atlantic League also likes to have geographic rivalries like Long Island and Bridgeport and Lancaster and York, and so Vermont would need a geographic rival.
Right now the Atlantic League seems to have no interest in expanding north, instead they are expanding into southern Virginia and will put a full four team division in Texas starting with the Sugarland Skeeters.
Still the idea of Vermont getting an AL team intrigues me, so I decided to catch up with Baseball historian/blogger and Vermonter Andrew Martin about his thoughts on this hypothetical idea.
CM: In your opinion is Vermont in jeopardy of losing the Lake Monsters?
AM: I think things look a lot better now than they did a year or two ago. The current owner Ray Pecor seems pretty committed to keeping baseball in Vermont, and the Oakland A's franchise seems like a good fit for the team. A lot of money is getting poured into bringing the current playing field up to par, but a new stadium would be the best way to ensure baseball sticking around.
CM: If the Lake Monsters, were to relocate do you think fans would embrace the idea of bring in an Atlantic League team?
AM: I think that there are more than enough baseball fans in Vermont and Canada to justify having a team of some sort in this area. It would be tough to lose a team like the Lake Monsters, which has existed in some form here for decades, but having some team would be better than none. An Atlantic League team would also represent an upgrade in the quality of baseball, plus more games, so I am sure those are all things that people would enjoy.
CM: Centennial Field is falling apart, and even with recent renovations the field isn't state of the art. The Atlantic League would help build a stadium there which would help the sports atmosphere. Do you think a new stadium is needed? Where would you like to see it located?
AM: A new stadium is absolutely necessary. Centennial Field has a lot of history and is beautiful in its own way, but with professional baseball being so competitive in terms of a city maintaining a team, a newer facility would be a must. The pipe dream for a location would be on the waterfront of Lake Champlain. It would be an amazing setting that could be a smaller version of San Francisco's park. It would also play well off all the hotels, restaurants, and other businesses in that area of the city. I am not sure if there would be available land however, and the parking, which is already sparse, could prove to be tricky. (picture from http://www.thirtythree.org/wallpapers/)
CM: If Vermont did get an AL team, what name would you choose?
AM: Hmm... Good question. This might be kind of lengthy, but I think the Green Mountain Boys would be pretty cool. I wish more teams would think outside the box and not just name their teams after an animal or some aspect of their uniform.
CM: Many Atlantic League teams have figure heads and managers who have recognizable names that help promote the league, who would you choose as the manger/figurehead for the Vermont team?
AM: I think there is only one man who would be the perfect fit for this role, and he is a Vermont resident. Bill "Spaceman" Lee would be a great choice to manage an Atlantic League team in Vermont. Not only does he know and love baseball, but he has the name recognition and entertainment value to draw in fans. I know he has been somewhat of a baseball nomad over the past couple of decades. It would be nice to see him and his wife Diana be able to be here full time.