CASPER - The Minor Baseball League Casper Ghosts no longer will haunt Mike Lansing Field here. After 11 seasons, the Colorado Rockies rookie-level affiliate team is moving to Grand Junction, Colo., and again will be called the Rockies, according to Executive Director Tim Ray.
The reason for the move? "It's all about economics," Ray told the Business Report. "Nobody comes to the games for a myriad of reasons." Confirming that attendance has declined, Ray said, "I want to keep a positive spin" on the situation.
Ray will continue as the executive director and will move to Colorado in about two weeks. At this point, he has no goals for the team in the move "because everything is happening so fast." He said he has met with the Denver owners, who formed an LLC and operated the team for the past year.
The Grand Junction City Council, which had to approve the team's move, is putting $8.3 million into Ralph Stocker Stadium, home of the Mesa State Mavericks. Ray noted that high school teams also play baseball in the stadium.
With a population of 146,000 in Mesa County, Ray said Grand Junction is a known supporter of baseball and will have a larger fan base than Casper's 50,000-plus.
The Host Family Program, which Ray called "the backbone of our organization," had local families who housed players who often were away from home for the first time. He said Casper's families were trailblazers for the program, which he is not sure if Grand Junction will participate.
"We had a great nucleus of fans in Casper. They would come night after night. I wish we would have had more fans," he said.
The Ghosts, who moved to Casper in 2001, were known as the Casper Rockies from 2001-07. The team was established in 1978 as the Butte (Mont.) Copper Kings, according to the team website.
Unveiled in 2007, the Casper Ghosts was the only team in Minor League Baseball to wear glow-in-the-dark caps and official colors were orange and black. In addition, an alternate logo with the image of Casper the Friendly Ghost was used with permission from the Harvey Entertainment division of Classic Media, the website says.
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