Atlantic League Expansion, Loudoun Breaks Ground On New Park, New League?

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The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball is looking to add more teams over the next few years as the popularity of the league grows, and the recent success of their expansion into Sugar Land, Texas.

In an article posted on ballparkdigest.com, the league hopes to add additional teams in and around the Houston area, as well as the Dallas area.

The Sugar Land Skeeters entered the Atlantic League in 2012, and immediately led the league in attendance. The Skeeters currently lead the league in attendance with over 5,565 fans per game, and sit in first place in the Freedom Division standings.

The Loudoun Hounds in Loudoun County, Virginia hope to repeat the success of the Skeeters in 2014. The Hounds will break ground on their new park in Virginia today.
After 3 years of work, the Hounds break ground on their new stadium today.

Other teams in the works to possibly join the Atlantic League includes:

Malden, MA,
Virginia Beach, VA
Fredericksburg, VA
Fort Worth, TX


Here's what the Atlantic League says about expansion on their site:

"The Atlantic League is also the only professional baseball league in an active expansion mode. The League plans to expand from eight to twelve teams over the next few years. The new expansion teams will join the existing teams which are currently located in the major metropolitan markets of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and Houston (in some cases with multiple clubs within a metropolitan market area). In addition to major US markets, several international locations are under consideration."

I'm looking forward to see how these projects go over the next few seasons. I think it makes sense to put more teams around the Skeeters not only because of attendance but cost involved in travel, and scheduling. The Atlantic League has always traditionally placed multiple teams near each other to keep travel costs low (Long Island/Bridgeport, York/Lancaster, and Camden/Somerset).

Also, Atlantic League founder Frank Boulton is looking into the possibility of starting a new developmental league which could see the return of baseball to Sussex County (N.J.), Atlantic City, Worcester, MA, and could include some current Can-Am League teams. An announcement will be made later this month.

It's great to see the success of the Atlantic League, and the growth over the last decade. However, in the wake of the success some organizations have struggled and eventually ceased operations. Only two original teams still exist in the league, Somerset and Bridgeport. Teams like the Newark Bears, Atlantic City Surf, and Nashua Pride have left the league or disbanded. There is speculation that with attendance being so low in Bridgeport the Bluefish may join the new developmental league, or move to Can-Am League. Again just speculation.
Could the Surf really be back?

I think the idea of a new developmental league is going to revive some of those organizations, and possibly their fan bases. Most of the cities, still have playable stadiums, while a few may need renovations. I know Atlantic City has a loyal fan base that was extremely disappointed when Surf cased operations. In the last year fans helped clean up the "The Sandcastle" in hopes of drawing a new team there.

I think with Frank Boulton and his colleagues at the helm of a possible new league, these teams could flourish.

I talked to many former players who played for Worcester, Atlantic City, and other now defunct teams and they've all said the same thing. The organizations did not hold high standards, and weren't run properly. So bad in fact that fans noticed and stopped coming. I've heard rumors of managers in dugouts texting other teams their involved with during games. None of this will happen on Frank Boulton's watch.

Is it possible Frank Boulton can pull of "Kitchen Nightmare" episode and turn around some of these organizations?  We'll have to wait and see...
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