Several area Little League coaches like the idea of a new professional baseball team so close to home — and hope partnerships with local youth baseball are part of the equation.
Kevin D’Arcy, who is coaching a Concord all-star team in the Little League District 14 tournament this season, lives close to where the Miracle will be playing their games.
D’Arcy and his family attend South Bend Silver Hawks games, and he said he and his family would most likely attend Miracle games also.
“Hopefully, they’ll partner with the local Little League teams so we can get some of our kids to the games,” D’Arcy said.
Nate Duell of Goshen, who coaches swimming at the high school in addition to also coaching a 9-10 team in the District 14 tournament, said he’s excited about the possibility of professional baseball coming to Elkhart County, and he knows Wallin.
“We like taking the kids to Silver Hawks games,” Duell said. “It would be nice to have a team closer to home, too.”
It’s that kind of community-minded approach that has helped another local minor league baseball team — the South Bend Silver Hawks — connect with its fan base under new ownership.
Team President Joe Hart said an independent team faces different challenges than an affiliated team. The Silver Hawks are a Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, playing in the Midwest League.
The Diamondbacks, as the parent club of the Silver Hawks, bear the cost of player salaries, Hart said. The average payroll for a minor league organization at the lower levels, Hart said, is about $250,000 per season.
“That’s a lot of money that we don’t have to worry about,” Hart said. The Silver Hawks, Hart said, take the money they don’t have to spend on player salaries and plug it into promotions to reward the fans who go to Stanley Covaleski Regional Stadium — the ballpark in downtown South Bend where the Silver Hawks play, affectionately known as “The Cove.”
The key to success for a minor league baseball franchise, Hart said, lies in making that connection with the fans.
“It’s about creating an overall experience at the ballpark,” Hart said. “That’s what we’ve been doing since we took over here.”
Hart said Silver Hawks management is aware of the new effort in Elkhart County, but will not view the Miracle as competition.
The Silver Hawks draw fans from a 50-mile radius of South Bend, Hart said.