Weber, Silver Knights part ways with GM Muntean

Staff file photo by TOM KING Nashua Silver Knights owner Drew Weber says general manager Rick Muntean will not be back for2019 after one season on the job.

NASHUA – Despite a season of record paid attendance, the Rick Muntean Era is one and done.

Nashua Silver Knights owner Drew Weber announced that Muntean will not return as the team’s general manager, despite the success at the gate.

The parting, at least in Weber’s eyes, was mutual.

“It’s been coming, and it’s mutual,” Weber said from his New York home. I think we had a tough time. It was a tough situation. …

“We’ve been talking about (a change) the last few weeks. I think it’s better for Rick and for the team. We went out on good terms.”

Muntean is planning on returning to his home in Ohio, he said on Monday.

“I’m good with it,” he said about not returning for a second year. “It just didn’t work out. Drew and I were never on the same page. The fans were great.”

Weber was not happy with what he says will be a bottom line that will show a loss, and he knows why.

“The expenses were through the roof,” he said, “and that’s the easiest thing to control.”

Weber admitted that his comfort level with former general manager Ronnie Wallace and assistant GM Cheryl Lindner, both of whom left last November, would have been tough to replicate. Ticket manager Brian Anderson is also leaving, Weber said, as he is possibly leaving the area. Weber said team finance director/assistant GM Victoria Cookson will remain, but Weber wouldn’t commit to calling her a candidate to replace Muntean.

“We’ll have discussions about all of that,” he said. “We’re going to work all this out. … We have some things in the fire already.

“We have several (GM candidates) in mind. I’d like sort of the same type of chemistry that Ronnie and Cheryl had. It’s a challenge.”

Revamping the front office is one of two major things Weber must deal with in the immediate/near future. The team’s most recent three-year lease, which also includes the contract to run concessions for all Holman Stadium events, is expiring at the end of the calendar year, and Weber says he plans to work out a new one with the city as soon as possible.

Weber said it should be more or less a formatlity. He wants another three-year deal.

“I think we’ll be fine,” he said. “I’d like the same three-year deal we’ve had, if that’s OK with Nashua. That’s what we’ve had. That seems like it’s been a good (term). We’ll get going on that very soon.”

Muntean is a veteran of well over 30 years of minor league or collegiate league baseball front office experience, and he had been a GM for a year and a half in the Futures League before, in Bristol.

The Silver Knights reported a franchise best 1,525 fans per game this summer, second in the Futures League, but that was paid attendance/tickets sold. In an interview with The Telegraph earlier this month, he talked about his plans for increasing the season ticket base for next season, and providing a more attractive incentive for group sales in the hopes of increasing the actual “fans in the seats”number. But now those are by the board.

“We want to get a good combination,” Weber said, adding he will be in Nashua in a couple of weeks to sit down at a luncheon with the summer staff that is still in the area and discuss what worked this past season and what didn’t. That is likely when he will meet with city officials on a lease renewal.

The team was evidently hamstrung when a key concessions employee quit the week of the season opener, and Cookson took over most of the supervisory concession duties.

“I think that’s where the problem started, and she wasn’t as involved as much in the bookeeping,” Weber said. “The bills would come in and it would be so late we’d just have to take care of them.”

Weber didn’t identify where the increased spending was. The team didn’t seem to have any outlandish or expensive promotions; in fact, there were hardly any celebrity appearances this season that may have cost dollars in the past. The franchise did host the FCBL All-Star Game/Holman 80th Birthday Celebration in mid-July, and after having to postpone it a day due to heavy rain, the event was a success.

Weber said the team took in revenues that were similar to past seasons.

“The funny thing is the revenue side is much more difficult to control,” Weber said. “I think we did fine on the revenue side. The concessions did fine. The souvenires did fine.

“The rainouts hurt, too. I don’t have the final numbers yet, but this was an aberration and very fixable.”

His timetable for naming a new GM has the same sense of speed. Last year, Wallace and Lindner left in November and Muntean wasn’t hired until mid-January.

“Quick, quick, quick, quick,” he said. “That went against us last year.”

As for Muntean’s vision for the organization, Weber said there needed to be more immediate action.

“You know what, there were a lot of ideas,” he said. “But ideas don’t mean much. It’s follow up. As for groups, we discussed that at length, and Rick was on board with it. But I don’t think it was ever pursued.”

At the same time, Weber praised Muntean’s desire to put the best product together.

“He was excited and he liked Nashua,” Weber said. “I never questioned his enthusiasm to do what was right for the city and the team. …

“We were just on different pages.”

And now the Silver Knights, with Weber in full control, will turn the page toward a new chapter with a new GM for 2019.