Silver Knights to be sold

FCBL team on verge of changing hands to Worcester Bravehearts owner

NASHUA – A Nashua Silver Knights off-season of upheaval has been hit with the ultimate new development, as owner Drew Weber said he is in the process of selling the Futures Collegiate League franchise to Worcester Bravehearts owner John Creedon Jr.

The team, both Weber and Creedon said, will definitely remain in Nashua and Creedon is hoping to finalize the three-year lease extension and concessions contract for Holman Stadium that Weber and the city have on the table. Creedon, who said Monday he is meeting with Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess later this week, will now own two teams in the FCBL.

A purchase price has not been disclosed, but both Weber and Creedon have said the plan is to also buy out the team’s minority ownership group, headed by Nashua banker Frank Teas Jr.

“This is in his (Teas’) best interest,” Weber said. “Why am I selling it at this point? The team has dipped a lot – we’ve had significant (financial) losses.

“I want to keep baseball running smoothly in Nashua, and make sure everyone I owe is paid. … This is the best thing for the city in every single way.”

Teas’ minority group, known as “No, No Nanette LLC,” appears to be on board with the move, judging by a prepared statement:

“While disappointed, Drew’s health and well-being is most important to us,” the statement said. “When we purchased a minority interest, we had no intention or capacity to become the majority owner and understood that a sale to another party could happen. Obviously, this happened a lot quicker than we had anticipated, but Drew has been transparent and communicative during the process and we wish him well.

“While no longer owners, we still will remain fans and continue to support baseball at Holman Stadium. Having a majority owner (Creedon Jr.) who will be on the ground for every game of the season should be of benefit to the team, the fans, and the city of Nashua.”

Creedon said Monday he hopes to have the group involved in some advisory capacity.

In short, Weber believes the franchise can no longer function with absentee ownership and that health issues have cropped up, preventing him from being more hands on.

That Weber is selling the team isn’t a complete shock since he first put the team on the market nearly four years ago, when he also sold the New York-Penn League Lowell (Massachusetts) Spinners. However, the timing may be questioned, since the Knights are set to open the season at Holman Stadium on May 29 and a lot of sales work for sponsors and tickets has begun.

Although Weber came close to selling it to a minor league baseball group from the Midwest in late 2015, he opted to keep the team and has halted a couple of other negotiations.

However, in the off-season, Weber:

*dismissed his general manager of one year, Rick Muntean;

*anointed staffer Victoria Cookson and new hire Michael Broderick as co-GMs in December; and

*he also brought in Teas’ group as minority owners.

Everything seemed in place for 2019 and beyond.

Things have not gone as smoothly as Weber would have preferred, however. He first encountered problems with his health – and has more closely examined team’s financials. The turning point financially, he said, began with the sudden dual resignation of former general manager and assistant general manager Ronnie Wallace and Cheryl Lindner in November 2017.

Weber has said since they left the team, losses, – in part due to lack of communication with front office successors — have made it more difficult for the New York-based retired businessman to be an absentee owner.

“I would have continued to bleed,” he said. “I don’t want any plaudits, but I also don’t want any knocks, either. … It (lately) has been very frustrating for me.”

Creedon Jr. and his family own a successful catering firm in Worcester (Creedon & Co.) and have built the Bravehearts during the last five years into the flagship franchise of the FCBL, consistently leading the league in attendance with a couple of championships as well. But the Bravehearts fell to Nashua in the FCBL finals in 2016 and 2017, fueling a rivalry for the two franchises and cities that are just about an hour’s drive apart.

Weber and Creedon Jr. are good friends, and Creedon said he welcomed the chance to acquire the Silver Knights.

“I’ve admired Drew Weber and his operation of Nashua for a long time,” Creedon Jr. said. “I’m a big believer in summer collegiate baseball. … We want to be able to grow our model, be able to grow the Futures League, and this move will help both of those things.

“I’m excited to learn more about Nashua. Holman Stadium is a jewel of a ballpark, a New England jewel. …Myself and my staff are excited for the prospect of getting to know a new community and making a positive impact. … I welcome any skepticism (of owning two teams). As much as I admire Drew and his operation, I admire the enthusiasm of Silver Knight fans. I know Silver Knights fans travel well. I’m extremely hopeful to be received well by the fan base so Nashua Silver Knights fans will have a team to root for for years to come.”

As for the staff, it appears that there will be some changes. Creedon is set to meet with the Knights front office this morning.

“That’s a question that remains to be answered. I’ve got staff and other people who are interested in becoming part of the operation in Nashua, but I’m mindful there’s a staff in place and will look for the opportunity to have conversations with them,” Creedon added.

Weber was one of the founders of the FCBL, creating the franchise in Nashua as one of the four founding teams – and right now the only one of the four that is active (Seacoast is on its second year of hiatus) – in 2011.

“When I got into this, I said I’d do a good job for Nashua,” Weber said, ” and that’s how I’m going to leave it.”