Time will tell but sale of Knights seems like right move
Well, it sure has been an eventful Nashua Silver Knights/Futures Collegiate League off-season, eh?
The franchise has had its front office revamped, gained minority owners, the league has a new commissioner, new franchise, and had a renegade franchise bolt, and this week the other shoe has dropped on the Silver Knights with owner Drew Weber announcing he’s selling the team to the owner of the club’s chief FCBL rivals less than three months before Opening Night.
Of course, those of you who have followed Nashua’s baseball history will be saying “Here we go again” with Weber unloading the team.
But not so fast. This isn’t necessarily the beginning of any end for perhaps Nashua’s most popular franchise of them all to call Holman Stadium home. Not if Weber and new owner John Creedon, Jr. can help it.
“The truth is,” Weber said, “this is not any of Nashua’s baseball history coming back here. It’s to the contrary. Both he and I believe in this franchise.
“He sees it as something he can build up. There’s no question in my mind that he will. I have five million ideas (to give him).”
Why is this sale happening? Simple. Weber realizes he can’t be an absentee owner any longer.
Ever since Weber put the Knights and Lowell Spinners up for sale back in September of 2015, it’s been a possibility. The Spinners have long since no longer been his property, and he just couldn’t find the right deal for the Knights and then saw the franchise as something he’d hold on to for awhile.
And he was likely going to hold on to them for a few more years until that fateful Monday morning in early November of 2017 when both general manager Ronnie Wallace and assistant GM Cheryl Lindner, both of whom Weber implicitly trusted, walked into the office and realized they both were getting ready to give their notice.
That set off a series of changes that never worked out in Weber’s mind. For some reason, new GM Rick Muntean and he barely talked all last season and at the end of the season Weber found out the team’s books were way out of whack despite a record attendance.
And during the course of the off-season, he was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the financials to the point where he didn’t think he could get a good feel for the franchise and its front office from his home in New York City or whatever warm weather spot he would venture to during the winter. Weber felt the team was spending – or would have to spend – way more than it should, and that made him so uncomfortable his health began to decline.
In his mind, absentee ownership would no longer work for the Silver Knights.
He is good friends with Creedon, Jr., who we have said here in the past is the most powerful person in the Futures League. And now he’s added to that power.
Sure, on the surface, you have to have concerns. Yours truly harkens back to the time about 15 years ago when then-Nashua Pride owner Chris English could no longer sustain losses and basically turned the franchise over to other league owners who ran it like a poor weak sister before local developer John Stabile swooped in and rescued it for a couple of years.
This likely won’t be the same. Different business model. No longer is there the great expense of having to travel to Martha’s Vineyard four or five times a season. You don’t pay the players, the lease – which will be signed soon – is cost-effective. Creedon, Jr. will make the unpaid bills right. B.J. Neverett in his role as VP of Player Personnel and field manager, will put a good product on the field.
“The fans will have their baseball,” Weber said, “and it will be no different.”
Still, the timing is tough because there will likely be front office changes with about 11 weeks to go before the opener. A group has to learn the area, the businesses, etc. And a local minority ownership group, led by Nashua banker Frank Teas, Jr., is being bought out. But the group is openly on board with the move and Creedon, Jr. says that it will be involved in an advisory role.
Creedon, Jr. is successful. He has a popular family run 30-year catering business in Worcester and for Silver Knights paying customers, he certainly has put the paying customers first in Worcester.
He also, when delving into the baseball business a few years ago, went along with his staff to Wisconsin to learn from the ownership group known as Big Top Baseball which owns and operates not one, not two, but four Northwoods League teams – the Madison (Wis.) Mallards, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, the Kenosa Kngfish, and the Green Bay Bullfrogs. So he’s ready for multi-team ownership.
But still, why is Creedon, Jr. ready to take on the Silver Knights? Well, remember, the Pawtucket Red Sox are moving to Worcester in a couple of years , into a new ballpark. While perhaps the fans may still come to see the Bravehearts play at Fitton Field, there’s only so many sponsorship dollars to go around. So perhaps Nashua is his eventual escape route.
But he also knows that Nashua is a strong franchise with perhaps the best venue in the FCBL. He doesn’t want to lose it. So the hope is the timing won’t be an issue.
“I hope not,” Weber said. “He will control it. He will make changes or not make changes with that in mind. This is the guy. If I sold the team, I was going to make sure it would be good for Nashua.”
It looks on the surface that it may be. But the only one who knows for sure?
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK.firstname.lastname@example.org