North Carolina Baseball Team Mired In Potentially Crippling Financial Struggles
The Atlantic League is an independent minor league of professional baseball that is a partner with Major League Baseball. The Gastonia Honey Hunters are in just their third season of competitive play in the league. And they are experiencing some serious financial difficulties. How difficult?
Well, last Friday, the team was scheduled to take the field against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs at 6:35 p.m. However, the game was delayed until 7:15. It’s summertime in the Carolinas. Weather can be an issue and baseball is an outdoor sport. This delay had nothing to do with rain. It had everything to do with the team’s ownership not having the ability to make it rain in their players’ bank accounts. The team refused to take the field until their payment issues were satisfactorily resolved.
How bad is it? Veronica Jeon, the chief operating officer of the Honey Hunters. She confirmed the rumored player protest to WSOC-TV and was quoted as saying, “There have been some challenges, specifically around cash flow that other startups face. We’re working through it quickly and as diligently as possible.”
The team is working with the Atlantic League to ge the players paid, but the financial difficulties of the club appear to extend beyond just that. Gastonia City Councilman Robert Kellogg posted this to his Facebook page.
The city of Gastonia invested some $26 million dollars in the team’s stadium and is in a contractual arrangement with the Honey Hunters and owner Brandon Bellamy (Momentous Sports and Entertainment). And honestly, the citizens of Gastonia have to shoulder some of the blame here. The Honey Hunters have this brand new, 5,000 seat stadium, yet are averaging just a little more than 1/4 capacity in attendance for each home game. Oh, and the team? They’re in first place.
Money fixes everything. The populace of Gastonia needs to get behind their team and support their investment.