B-Mets here to stay after change in ownership
BINGHAMTON -- Exactly 100 days from Opening Day, B-Mets General Manager Jim Weed and outgoing Team President Mike Urda introduced the team's new owner at a press conference at NYSEG Stadium on Monday. John Hughes, President of Evans Street Baseball, Inc. purchased the team from Urda, and his partners Bill and David Maines and George Scherer effective December 23rd.
The team's future has been in doubt since early in 2015 when reports surfaced of a sale to Main Street Baseball, LLC and subsequent relocation to Wilmington, Delaware. But upon his introduction today, Hughes says emphatically, "the team is not going anywhere."
"The B-Mets are here to stay. Not only for today and not only for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, but we're here for the future," Hughes said "There's a long term commitment in place and we plan to fulfill that."
The Player Development Contract between the New York Mets and the B-Mets extends through the 2020 season and the lease with the city for use of NYSEG Stadium extends through 2021.
Weed and the rest of the front office staff will be retained and Hughes says he could even see room for expansion of the front office to implement plans and events that will revitalize the organization.
"We're going to come out there and support the community as much as you are able to come out and support us," Hughes said. "We're holding events, and putting on a show for everyone and creating what I want to consider the jewel of the community. Double-A baseball is hard to come by. There are only 30 of them in America, and the fact that we have a Double-A baseball team, I think is something we need to take advantage of and build upon."
Hughes is the owner of an international consulting firm and has connections to Upstate New York. With family in Buffalo and Westchester County, he's excited to own a team located between the two and plans to buy a house in the region so that he can be active with the day-to-day operations of the team.
"I want to be actively engaged," he said. "That's the most important thing for me is to be actively engaged in managing this baseball team, in helping this community. Basically, creating a resurgence of this franchise. That's what we're looking forward to."
Hughes promises new and exciting ideas to bring the fans back to the ballpark. As for what those ideas are, he says we'll all have to wait for the Hot Stove Meeting in March for season ticket holders.
Urda and group have owned the Binghamton Mets since the start of the 1994 season. Despite being, at times, vilified over the last year in the midst of the lawsuit with Main Street Baseball regarding the future of the team, Urda says he's confident in the direction of the team.
"It has been an honor to be the guardian of the B-Mets baseball franchise for the past two decades, and we are pleased to turn over the keys to a man with great values," he said.
Hughes added that it's rare in baseball for a minor league team to have the same affiliate for 25 years and that it's time Binghamton returns the favor to the New York Mets and once again make the big league club proud to have their Double-A affiliate in the Southern Tier.
The Binghamton Mets have sent more than 250 players to the big leagues since 1992, including 16 players that were on this year's Mets World Series roster.
Opening Day for the Binghamton Mets April 7.