Benson ownership of new minor league team best for New Orleans moving forward
It is a long time to be a lame duck.
However, the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, operators of the Shrine on Airline made it clear they expect the New Orleans Baby Cakes to fulfill their lease until it expires on September 30, 2021.
Will that actually happen? Will the ‘Cakes cook here for three more season until the move to Wichita?
The best thing for New Orleans and their departing Triple A club is for us to find another club soon and send them on their way.
In a statement, LSED chairman Kyle France said, “It is our intention to find another team to play here.”
When they do, hopefully the next call will be to Saints ownership to see if they are interested in owning the club.
Tom Benson tried to bring Double A baseball here 25 years ago, but he was trumped by a simple minor league rule. The highest classification wins. So, a local group led by Rob Couhig brought a Triple A team to New Orleans, first to Privateer Park and then on to newly-built Zephyr Field.
Those were the salad days. New Orleans won the Triple A World Series in 1998 and shared the Pacific Coast League championship three years later.
Then something happened that changed the landscape of New Orleans sports forever.
NBA basketball returned when the Charlotte Hornets moved here in the spring of 2002.
Minor league baseball became a very tough sell.
A Double A team in the Southern League would make plenty of sense now. The team would save a lot of money in travel. In Double A, you take the bus, in Triple A, you fly all over the country, especially in the PCL. The latter is a league that frankly is too big and has too much travel.
Saints ownership, led by Gayle Benson, would be able to use their season ticket list to sell tickets and promote baseball.
The state of Louisiana would in turn likely open the purse strings for a major renovation of The Shrine on Airline. It could be included in the next negotiation that keeps the Saints and Pelicans here long term.
There’s no doubt the ballpark needs a huge rehab.
If you don’t believe me, go to Birmingham and spend a night at the Barons’ new downtown ballpark. It has all the amenities and them some. There are suites, a playground area for the kids and rocking chairs in the outfield.
Every seat is a real good one.
Compared to Birmingham, The Shrine is a relic.
Hopefully, when the next team comes here, the Baby Cakes name will be thrown out with the bath water. It has nothing to do with New Orleans. It is a gimmick, nothing else.
In the meantime, the move of the Triple A club to Wichita could be a good thing for all involved. The owners get a sweet deal from Wichita, including a new ballpark.
New Orleans gets a baseball reset, hopefully with Saints ownership involved.
Time for the LSED to get on the phone with Gayle Benson as well as Saints and Pelicans team president Dennis Lauscha. Then they can ask the following question.
“What will it take?”
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WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM
Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…