Casper's Rosell Herrera prepares to round third and head for home during the first inning of the Ghosts' game against the Idaho Falls Chukars July 1, 2011 at Mike Lansing Field. (Joshua A. Bickel/Star-Tribune)

Joshua A. Bickel

After a decade of playing baseball in Wyoming, the Casper Ghosts are leaving town.

The owners of the minor league team met with city leaders Friday afternoon in City Hall and formally announced their intention to move the team to Grand Junction, Colo.

The relocation will become final if the Grand Junction City Council approves the move. The council is scheduled to vote on the matter Monday.

"Casper has served as a tremendous home to our organization since 2001," Dick Monfort, a primary owner of the Colorado Rockies organization, said in a media release. "The citizens, businesses and elected officials of Casper have been our supporters and partners for the past decade and we will always be grateful for the opportunities they provided to us. While it is a very difficult decision to leave Casper, we strongly believe that our organization as a whole will benefit from this move."

Mayor Paul Bertoglio said the meeting Friday was cordial and professional. The Rockies, he said, indicated that the move is an opportunity to place the minor league team in a larger market with bigger potential for a stronger fan base and more attendance.

"From a business standpoint, moving to a larger population base was something they were looking at regardless of whether it was Grand Junction or elsewhere," Bertoglio said after the meeting. "They were very professional and we greatly appreciated the courtesy for them to come up."

The Colorado Rockies' average attendance for home games in Denver is about 30,000, or roughly 10 percent of the city's approximate population of 2.5 million.

Bertoglio said it is unrealistic to expect Casper to draw 10 percent of Casper's population -- about 5,000 people -- to Mike Lansing Field each Ghosts' game.

The Grand Junction Metropolitan Area is home to roughly 146,000, according to the 2010 Census.

The Rockies will honor the terms of an exit agreement and pay the city of Casper $200,000. There was no indication, the mayor said, of when that may happen.

Bertoglio said Monfort told him there are many cities with populations like Casper's with minor league teams. The mayor said that while it is difficult to attract minor league baseball teams, "we will look to see if there is another franchise out there who is looking to move. We certainly enjoyed our relationship with the Colorado Rockies."

The Rockies organization is looking at ways to continue its relationship with the Casper community. But they didn't offer any definitive ideas, Bertoglio said.

"They are very appreciative of what Casper has done for the organization."

"We are very sorry to see them go," he added.

Tim Ray, the Ghosts' executive director, is expected to join the team in Grand Junction, Colo., Bertoglio said.

Ray, reached Friday evening, declined to comment on the pending move.

The Rockies' Pioneer League team moved to Casper in 2001. From that time until 2007, they were known as the Casper Rockies before changing their name to Ghosts.


Load comments