The GBL announced on Thursday that team President Darren Parker was named Executive of the Year.
Parker was awarded this in large part to the success he has had bringing a franchise to a location that has not had professional baseball in 25 years.
“It is very difficult to launch an expansion professional sports team in any sport and any location,” said GBL Commissioner Kevin Outcalt. “And it is extraordinary what Darren has accomplished in Victoria with the Seals and the support and excitement he has generated from the community, business partners, and fans.
“His success is a blueprint for sports ownership and will undoubtedly be used as a model in the industry.”
Launching a franchise in a brand new city is tough enough. How will fans respond? Can the current stadium withstand the rigors of one more year? Will the franchise make a profit despite the current economy?
The Seals and the City of Victoria worked hand in hand with the rebuilding of historic Royal Victoria Park, while strengthening its community bonds with fundraisers and appearances.
Originally purchased in 1925, the multi-purpose venue has been host to many different athletic teams since its original restoration in 1967. In 2007, it was one of six venues selected to host the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Current occupants include; Victoria Rebels of the Canadian Junior Football League, Vancouver Island Soccer League, Victoria United Football Club, Greater Victoria Minor Football, Victoria Slo-Pitch League and the Victoria Seals.
“We are very proud of how the Seals quickly became such a great asset and an integral part of the wonderful city of Victoria,” said Golden Baseball League CEO David Kaval.
“Given Darren’s background of having grown up with and worked for years with the Calgary Cannons, owned by his family and considered one of the premier sports organizations in Canada, I am not surprised by his success and look forward to more great things from him, his team, and the fans of the Seals.”
When notified of his award, Parker thanked many people for the many contributions in making his achievement possible.
“Congratulations to all our partners in the Golden Baseball League for a successful 2009 season. Thank you, this is a tremendous honor and one that I proudly accept on behalf of our entire organization.”
He added, “Our staff worked tirelessly all summer to bring professional baseball back to Royal Athletic Park and couldn’t have done it without the tremendous support from our fans and business partners. We look forward to many more summers of providing fun, affordable family entertainment to Greater Victoria!”
On the field, the Seals did not meet the goal that it envisioned, rounding out the bottom of the North Division, but a 53% capacity rate, that ranked second in the league and a average attendance sitting around 2,400, can only lead to bigger and better things.
For a first-year franchise to have the kind of success at the executive level, a sense that the surrounding community has bought into its vision and a front office with over a combined 40 years of baseball experience, on-field progress is almost a certainty for this team.
Devon Teeple is an author for the Business of Sports Network, which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Devon is a former student within Sports Management Worldwide’s Baseball General Manager Class. Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective and is a intern with The Football Outsiders and contributor with the Plymouth River Eels.
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