The West Coast League will expand in 2014 as Pacific Baseball Ventures, LLC (PBV), the ownership group of the Walla Walla Sweets, announced today that they have been awarded a West Coast League membership in Yakima, Washington. The soon-to-be-named Yakima team will begin WCL play in time for the 2014 season.
“We are excited to be provided the opportunity to bring professionally operated, community-centered baseball back to a community that is an historical and cultural treasure in the Pacific Northwest,” said Zachary Fraser, Vice President of PBV. “We’ve experienced great success in Walla Walla and will bring that same energy, focus on fan experience, and competitive baseball to a great community with incredible history in the game like Yakima. Let’s play ball!”
PBV is led by wireless communications pioneers John Stanton, Theresa Gillespie and Mikal Thomsen. Thomsen is also the managing partner of the Tacoma Rainiers (AAA affiliate of the Seattle Mariners). Members of the group include: Peter van Oppen of Trilogy Equity Partners, former Major League Baseball All-Star Jeff Cirillo, Crosscut.com publisher and CEO Greg Shaw, and Fraser. The group founded the Sweets in 2009, starting play in 2010, and have experienced a baseball renaissance in a market rich with baseball history in Walla Walla. Yakima presents similar opportunities.
Fraser is in the process of working with State Fair Park, operators of Yakima County Stadium, to finalize details on a lease. A timeline for operations, such as announcement of a general manager and staff, opening of team offices, a team name, and the hiring of a coaching staff will be announced shortly, with details rolling out over the course of the 2013 WCL season in preparation for Opening Day in June of 2014.
“The West Coast League is extremely excited about this new opportunity in Yakima,” said WCL Vice President Eddie Poplawski, a member of the WCL’s Executive Committee. “We believe that the passion for baseball in Yakima coupled with the market’s central location within the league’s footprint are key ingredients for enabling PBV to create a fun, family-friendly environment at Yakima County Stadium for many summers to come.”
The 2013 season of West Coast League baseball begins June 5 in markets across the league.