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Friday, July 29, 2005

It Is Tough to Visit A Dying Friend.....

The Nashua Pride of the independent Atlantic League are dying, quietly by all accounts. The team's attendance numbers are down quite a bit this year (averaging about 1,500 per game), after the team was sold to a league-connected ownership group over the off-season, with part ownership given to popular Manager Butch Hobson as an incentive to return as manager for another season.

When the team re-negotiated its lease agreement with the City of Nashua (meaning the team got better lease terms and other concessions from the city) the talk was that the team was essentially going to revenue-share with the city as future attendance improved. Yeah. I doubt that anyone connected with the city administration believes that any of the million-plus dollars invested in refurbishing Holman Stadium will ever pay dividends for Nashua taxpayers.

An insightful and on-point piece was printed several weeks ago by Jim Fenell in the Union Leader, in part pointing to the success of the nearby Manchester Fisher Cats (averaging about 4,500 fans per game) as part of the reason for Nashua's decline. That is no doubt true, but let's be honest - the Pride never drew well even when they were new in town, had no direct competition, and were winning. I haven't been to Nashua this year, for the reason Jim points out: there was no life there the last time I visited - it is a tough place to go, one actually feels self-concious sitting in the stands there (Why am I here when no one else is?....and yes, it does feel a bit like a wake now that you mention it.....)

I have no interest in dumping on the Pride; the team has tried repeatedly to make a real go of it in Nashua, an effort I admire and they should be congratulated for bringing baseball back to New Hampshire. You never want to see a local team re-locate; that's a sacrilige and a terrible way to repay the few Pride fans that have stayed with the team all along. But somehow it seems that the team needs to find a new home where they will be more successful in capturing the lifeblood of the game - fans. Congratulations are nice, fans in the stands are better though.
See Jim's article here: