Super Indy Baseball: Can It Work?
"Super Independent Baseball offers affordable, family fun and entertainment through our national pastime and will provide our product to communities throughout the United States of America who have a desire to BRING PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL HOME!"
That quote was from the vision statement on the website of Super Indy Baseball (SIB). I’m sure most of you are drawing a blank on what the SIB is. Super Independent Baseball is a professional baseball league slated to begin play in the spring of 2011 and was founded this January by Jamie Toole. He will be attempting to rival the MLB in popularity with his new organization. However, there are many outrageous things about this league.
In 2011, they will begin play with 8 divisions. They are the Glory Division in the Western USA, the Majestic Division in the Northwest, the Pioneer Division in the Central, the Independence Division in New England, the Freedom Division in the Southeast, the Heritage Division in the Appalachians, the Great Lakes Division and the Wild West Division in the South.
I’m not exaggerating one bit when I say that there are 8 divisions. In those divisions, there will be 4 teams. Multiply 8 by 4, and if my calculations are correct, they want 32 teams in their expansion season. If that is not crazy, I don’t know what is.
The playing format is as follows: Teams will play in their respective divisions for an amount of games that is yet to be announced. At the end of the season, the winners of the 8 divisions - the teams that get the most points - will play in a Super Series for the SIB Championship. It seems fairly simple.
Now, if Toole wants this league to get off the ground, they will need to have some icing put on this cake. They have done that quite nicely, since the expansion fee is only 60,000 dollars. However, Thomas is obviously running out of time to get those 32 teams in 2 years. So far, there are two teams that are locks for 2011. One of the Carolinas will get a team, and Florida will get a team.
I’m thinking that the Florida team would play at the Wide World of Sports Stadium in Orlando, or one of the many stadiums that MLB teams use for Spring Training that are located in Florida. As for Carolina, I’m not aware of any baseball stadiums over a certain capacity that is required for this league. If Thomas wants to compete with the MLB, he will need over 10,000 people at every game.
In order to get many people at games, they will need to find stadiums that currently aren’t in use, and are over a 10,000 seating capacity. I can bet all the money in the world, that there isn’t 30 of them. One that does come to mind, is Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky. It is aging and would need to be refurbished, but it does fit the card. It is able to hold 20,000 people for baseball.
Another thing that they will need to attract fans, is something that will drag them in. They need to get their name out into the vast boundaries of sports entertainment. They need to start by getting a good ad campaign started. Something that you don’t regularly see, are ads for sports leagues that still have 540 days until the opening pitch. That could pay off in the end.
They’ll also need a TV deal with one of the major networks like NBC or ABC. Try to get one of their games televised on Friday or Saturday nights. Something like Hockey Night in Canada.
Speaking of Canada, one thing that I’ve been wondering about this league, is if they will expand into other countries. There maybe not a good amount of vacant professional baseball stadiums in the United States, but if you combine all of North America, they might have something going for them
However, despite the amount of exposure that they could get, I think the conclusion that everyone should be coming to, is that Toole is aiming for something that is very far-fetched. Even with the cheap expansion fee, his lofty goal won’t be achieved just yet. However, this league could work if he changed his plan a bit. He could start with fewer divisions, and less teams. Perhaps even a 16 team league. Even that doesn’t seem possible in these times, but it’s much better than a 32 team league. So, Mr. Toole, rethink your plan a bit, and people might take you a bit more seriously.
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