Yakima Bears Set To Come Out Of Hibernation For 23rd (Final?) Season
After a tumultuous offseason, the Yakima Bears are counting down to their 23rd season in town.
“We’re focused on 2012,” said General Manager K.L. Wombacher who also indicated that the team’s energy is aimed towards a successful season.
WIth the spectre of moving to Vancouver and a new stadium hanging over the heads of the team, the Bears finished last season 33-43, but were 22-16 at home.
While the team is back in Yakima, the concerns about the stadium are still in place. Recently, the team and county agreed to pay $10,000 each to help fix an infield that has been a concern for not only the team, but their parent club, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“We are not getting their top prospects,” said Wombacher. He added that the Diamondbacks contract with the Bears is up after this season and it might not be renewed. “Our contract with the league does guarantee an affiliation,” said Wombacher.
This is one example that Wombacher points to when he tries to assure residents that the new stadium request is not about making the owners more money. The team is looking for better parking, protection against the heat, more conveniently located concession stands and restrooms.
Wohmbacher also noted that the team hasn’t made a profit in 11 years. “They [the owners] own the team because they have a passion,” said the GM.
According to figures provided by the team, the average spending per fan in the league is $7-$8. For the Yakima Bears, that number drops to $4.40 and can be correlated with inadequacies of the ballpark.
As the team focuses on the 2012 season, Wombacher notes that the community has been very supportive. Ticket sales have been good, and the team has introduced some new ticket plans that are designed with families in mind.
“95 percent of our fans come to game for reasons other than baseball,” said Wombacher noting that spending time together and enjoying a nice day are among the reasons people take in a game.
When it comes to the stadium, Wombacher is less committal. “We’re here for this season and that’s our focus.”
The lease agreement between the team and the stadium ends in 2015 and the league will not permit a renewal unless it meets N.W.L. standards.
For now, the team, and their loyal fans, can get excited for their 23rd season. The first game is June 15th at Euguene. The first home game is June 20th versus the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.