In a move that surprises nobody, the Rays have begun the process to move their Florida State League franchise from Vero Beach to Charlotte County in 2009. Charlotte County is the home of a minor league park that is receiving a $27 million renovation and will be the new home for the Rays Spring Training beginning in 2009.
What is surprising is that ABC-7 is reporting that the group that has proposed to purchase the Vero Beach franchise is led by Cal Ripken Jr..
“The Ripkin Group – they have a very good reputation, obviously. Anytime you have Cal Ripkin, Jr. high up in the organization, they have a very solid reputation,” said Jim Ferguson, media relations director for minor league baseball.
Ripkin has reportedly had his representatives ask permission from the Fort Myers Miracle to explore the possibility of another Florida State League team in Southwest Florida. The Miracle couldn’t comment because of tampering rules, but Ripkin’s groups told us, “Things are in the works” and to “check back in about 30 days.”
“There is nothing set in stone yet. But it is something we’ve been exploring and it would be a logical piece of the puzzle,” said Vaughn.
Ferguson added, “It takes a while and it’s a lot of paperwork, but generally they get approved.”
The Charlotte County franchise would be the third team owned by the Ripken Baseball Group which also owns the Abderdeen IronBirds and the Augusta Green Jackets. They have a goal of owning 10 franchises by 2015.
It seems only fitting that Cal Ripken jump on the Rays bandwagon considering the Orioles will be residing in the Rays usual last place in 2008.
RAYS MAY MOVE MINOR LEAGUE TEAM TO SWFL [ABC-7]