Klamath Falls awarded WCL franchise

A West Coast League team will start play as soon as 2010 in Klamath Falls, Oregon. League president Ken Wilson announced the awarding of a conditional WCL membership to the City.

Klamath Falls becomes the ninth member of the wood-bat summer college league, which launched in 2005 with 7 teams.

“We’ve spent more than a year developing the market,” said Wilson. “We’re impressed with the love of baseball throughout the community and the enthusiasm expressed for having a WCL team.”

The pro-like West Coast League fills its rosters with top college players from around the country. “We’re not only going to provide great baseball, but we’re committed to providing affordable family entertainment to the folks of Klamath Falls,” noted Wilson.

The American Legion Klamath Falls Falcons have long been a mainstay in the community. “We’re going to work closely with the American Legion program and all amateur baseball,” added Wilson. “We want more youngsters playing baseball and we want amateur baseball to continue to thrive in Klamath Falls.”

The Klamath Basin has a population of 70,000, which swells in the summertime. “It’s an exciting market for us,” said Bend Elks’ owner Jim Richards. “We’re looking forward to having a great rivalry with Klamath Falls.”

The new team will play its home games at historic Kiger Stadium, which was built in 1948 for the Far West League Klamath Falls Gems. The ballpark has a capacity of over 3,000 and has received nearly $500,000 in improvements over the last few years. “I can’t express how excited we are to have a West Coast League team,” said Don Ambers of the Kiger Stadium Association. “The fans and our business community will really embrace this team.”

A prospective owner is expected to make a formal membership application to the WCL in a matter of a few days. Approval of the new owner by the WCL board of directors is expected to follow quickly. “Once that happens and the stadium lease is finalized, Klamath Falls will be an official member of the West Coast League,” according to Wilson.

Longview/Kelso, Washington heads a list of cities under consideration to become the tenth member of the WCL. A number of markets in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California are considered candidates to eventually become members of the growing league. The West Coast League plays a 48-game schedule. The 2009 season begins June 5.