There’s a new ‘Claw in town! Lakewood BlueClaws under new ownership
The Lakewood BlueClaws are now under new management following an announcement new owners have taken over operations of the minor-league ball-club.
The group Shore Town Baseball made the recent purchase official last week from American Baseball Ventures who've run the team since its 2001 inception and have been looking to sell since about November of 2016.
Terms of the deal made by the now former owners Joe Finley and Craig Stein were not released.
Art Matin, who heads shore town baseball, says the group had interest from other organizations but then came Lakewood.
"The BlueClaws are one of the most admired franchises across all of minor-league baseball," said Matin. "They've had a tremendous record of success over the past 16-plus years and have a terrific fan base that's very supportive."
The new ownership group includes local investors Bob Tamashunas and Bill Luby, who both live in Monmouth County and are partners at Seaport Capital, a private equity firm with a history of investing in minor league baseball through its majority ownership of Mandalay Baseball Properties.
Matin also has plenty of experience in the Minor League's, as a former CEO of Mandalay Baseball Properties who owned nine-different teams over its existence which include current New York Yankees Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders as well as the Dayton Dragons, Oklahoma City RedHawks and Frisco RoughRiders.
He was also chairman of MILB’s Baseball Internet Rights Company (BIRCO) from 2010-2014.
Matin says it's already a great run team both on the field, in the stands and in the front-office so they're not looking to overhaul anything.
"We're just going to look for opportunities to do a couple things that are different or improve or freshen up a couple of areas in the ballpark," said Matin.
While those ideas are still in the discussion stages among BlueClaws officials and none are publicly known, Matin says whatever they do will be to continue making the ballpark a fan friendly experience.
"We expect that we'll be making some investment in the ballpark to enhance the fan experience and we have a laundry list of ideas," said Matin.
Matin adds that he's already been discussing improvement ideas with the fans and how things are going with other game-day staff, but in the end this team belongs to the shore.
"We might be owners of the team but the team really belongs to the broader Jersey Shore community," said Matin. "We're glad that there's so much participation from businesses and charitable groups all across the Jersey Shore."
Matin says their plans are to make games affordable family entertainment and ensure quality professional baseball.
"The way to engage with the fans is to make sure that everyone who works there is engaging properly with the fans and make sure that they have a great time at the ballpark," said Matin. "We want everybody to go home happy."
Philadelphia Phillies President Andy MacPhail commented on the recent transition of power in Lakewood, “We are thrilled to welcome Art, Bob, Bill and Shore Town Baseball to the Phillies family. Their passion for the game is outstanding, and we know they will do a great job leading the BlueClaws and supporting the Phillies, our young players, and coaches. I’d also like to thank Joe Finley and the rest of the outgoing ownership group for 17 great years together in Lakewood. We would also like to express our appreciation to all the fans who have supported the team over the years.”
Matin, says their goal with the Low-A affiliate is to continue developing Phillies prospects.
"Our role is making sure the environment is great, that we get the players where they need to be and make sure they're in a comfortable environment to give them the best chance to develop into future major leaguers," said Matin.
He says the on-field development will be left to the coaching staff and other baseball personnel.
The BlueClaws have also led the South Atlantic League in average or overall attendance over the past 16-seasons.
They're also in need of a general manager after Chris Tafrow left earlier this season to become the Associate GM at Rutgers IMG Sports Marketing.
Matin says they've narrowed it down to the final candidates.
"I would expect to have a new GM in before the end of the season," said Matin. "We're looking for somebody with meaningful experience."
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