The Thunder Bay Border Cats are on the verge of being transferred to a local ownership group.
Group spokesperson Bryan Graham said Tuesday the process of gathering more investors before signing documents to take over the team from the Northwoods League.
“We certainly want to keep the team here in Thunder Bay. We certainly see a lot of potential with the Border Cats organization moving forward,” Graham said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “We just wanted to put together a local group that can operate it and sink some capital investment into the operation to take over the franchise and run it and hopefully be successful with it from both the business side and baseball side.”
So far, Graham said the group is “about half a dozen” investors shy of their goal of 25 investors. However, there has no been deadline set for the group to bring in the needed money.
“We’re still looking for investors right now,” he said. “We’re continuing to have good dialogue with the league.”
Graham estimates the deal should be, “taken care of in the next couple of weeks.”
Annual operating costs hover between the $450,000 to $500,000 mark per NWL team, which includes travel, rent, equipment, salaries and promotions. Since the players are college amateur athletes, they are not paid.
At the conclusion of last season, the Border Cats’ past ownership group — Superior Baseball based out of Florida — pulled out their stakes, leaving some unpaid bills in town, according to a CBC Thunder Bay report featuring an interview with NWL chair Dick Radatz Jr.
The changeover resulted in the resignation of general manager Dan Grant.
Despite going 22-50 on the field, the Border Cats still had a solid fan base with an average 823 fans per game at Port Arthur Stadium.
“The team has a chance with the proper marketing, with the proper ticket sales, with the proper promotions and a little bit of good luck with the weather during the summer,” Graham said.
Superior Baseball had purchased the Cats from Thunder Bay’s Brad Jorgenson during the winter of 2016. The group, led by original Cats owner (from the team’s inception in 2003) John Wendel and Kyle Smith, promised to foster baseball in the city. In the end, they lasted just two seasons. Before the 2018 season was at its midpoint, Superior Baseball investor Steve Muzzy approached The Chronicle-Journal with a story idea to feel out if there would be any local investors to slowly take over the team.
Interested investors can contact Graham at email@example.com.