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 Canberra's national-league bid hits home run 

Canberra's national-league bid hits home run

19 Nov, 2009 09:58 AM
Canberra's team in the new Australian Baseball League could have up to eight imports in its debut season as competition bosses strive for a successful beginning for the franchise.

The ABL yesterday announced Canberra as the sixth team alongside Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, in the league which begins in November 2010.

The Australian season will run during America's Major League Baseball off-season, allowing some potentially big-name players to travel Down Under to boost the local competition. An American coach may also be sought for the Canberra team, although a decision on that will be deferred until mid next year.

The Canberra Times understands it will cost about $500,000 a season to run a team in the new competition.

For the inaugural season the ACT Government will contribute $75,000 (a $45,000 one-off payment and a $30,000 grant paid each season).

The franchise already has about $64,000 from about 3200 people pledging support at $20 a head during the bid attempt.

Also ActewAGL, Rolfe Audi and the Belconnen Soccer Club plus 12 minor backers are already on board as sponsors.

Chairman of the ABL Mark Peters spoke glowingly of Canberra's successful bid.

''It was a difficult test with some very stringent criteria so this is a great day for Canberra, a great day for the ABL,'' he said.

''There is still an enormous amount of planning to be done but once we appoint a general manager, then an advisory group, it will all happen.

''As for a coach, if we see a franchise could benefit from a US coach coming out, then it's something we'd definitely have a look at.''

Now that the franchise is confirmed, people to run the organisation will be sought.

A general manager will be the first employee, to be announced early in the new year.

A coaching staff of four one head coach and three assistants will follow.

They will then begin to set up an inaugural playing squad.

Canberra-born pitcher Jeff Williams and the Kimpton brothers, Nick and Chris, will be high on the the team's initial target player list.

The Canberra franchise, which is yet to be named, is likely to have about 22 players in its inaugural season up to eight imports, as many as 12 players from the current ACT competition and the rest from around Australia.

The team will play about 60 matches plus finals each season, which will run from November until February. A team name and colours will be decided by a community competition next year.

Manager of Major League Baseball international division Peter Wermuth described the challenges ahead for the Canberra bid as ''significant''.

''The quality of play here in Australia is at a very, very high level so the Canberra franchise will need to be strong from the outset'' he said.

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From left, ABL chairman Mark Peters, left, ACT Baseball’s Theo Vassalakis, Major League Baseball’s Peter Wermuth and ACT Sports Minister Andrew Barr.
From left, ABL chairman Mark Peters, left, ACT Baseball’s Theo Vassalakis, Major League Baseball’s Peter Wermuth and ACT Sports Minister Andrew Barr.


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