By Devon Teeple
Nothing like an early Christmas present for Independent baseball fans.
MLive Media Group has announced that the United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL) will begin play in downtown Utica, Mich. in the summer of 2016. All league games will be played at Jimmy John’s Field. Still under construction, the $12 million project is scheduled to be ready for Opening Day.
At this time, three teams have been introduced; Utica Unicorns, Eastside Diamond Hoppers, and Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers. Fan involvement was at its peak when the “name the team” contest had “Unicorns” garnering the most votes.
The league states that all people who voted for the Utica Unicorn name will receive official Unicorns swag. Andy Appleby, the USPBL league founder, president and CEO of Rochester, Mich.-based General Sports and Entertainment, spoke on the state of the league and what people should expect out of this startup.
“This league and these teams will bring a professional baseball experience like no other to this region, the USPBL will be competitive, affordable, community-focused and tremendous fun for fans of every age,” said Appleby.
Just as with restaurants, Indy baseball is a fickle business. The Northern League, a staple of the industry that was around for nearly 20 years, couldn’t escape financial struggles. Sometimes the best product doesn’t always mean success. New beginnings are always filled with excitement. Let’s hope that come 2017 the USPBL bucks the trend and becomes a fixture in Indy circles.
Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM’s Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada.