RENO - There is a strong possibility that the Golden Baseball League could place a team at the University of Nevada's Peccole Park as early as next year, according to Amit Patel, the co-founder of the first-year independent league.
"We are in negotiations with the university and have been for a couple of months," Patel said Monday afternoon from league headquarters in Pleasanton, Calif. "The 2006 season is a possibility."
Patel said the sides have discussed what it would entail having a GBL franchise at Nevada. Currently, the GBL shares facilities with four other college teams - Cal-State Fullerton, San Diego State, Long Beach State and Chico State - which Patel said has been a plus for both parties and would help in negotiations with Nevada officials.
The GBL executive said he hopes to have an agreement in place and an announcement no later than late October.
Patel said that the GBL would make capital improvements up front on Peccole Park in return for a lease agreement. The biggest expenditure would be to install lights at Peccole, which university officials hope would help land them the 2006 WAC baseball tournament.
"I think it's feasible," Nevada coach Gary Powers said of installing lights at Peccole. "If they put in lights, we could pay off the field turf with rent (money)."
Field turf has been Powers' pet project over the last couple of years. He would love to see it installed this season. Powers said he's involved in the negotiating and bidding process now. The veteran coach said it's an 8 to 10-week process to get turf installed. Having turf would open the door for Nevada to possibly play home games in January and February, which has been tough to do in the past.
"The field turf is something coach Powers has been working with the Dugout Club on, and that could be part of the agreement (to help them out)," Patel said. "The lights are a possibility, but we are running short on time to get that done (for this year)."
Nevada just refurbished its locker room at Peccole, and Patel wasn't sure if the use of that would be part of the agreement or not. The lack of a visiting locker room wouldn't be a big deal because most teams would probably come to games dressed and use their hotels to shower after the games.
Patel said that Peccole is already has good as many Single-A stadiums in the country.
Golden Baseball League teams play a 90-game schedule starting Memorial Day weekend, which wouldn't affect Nevada unless it had a chance to host a regional or play in a regional. The initial GBL regular-season ended Monday, and playoffs will commence in the next few days.
The GBL, which is privately owned, operates under a team salary cap according to Patel. He said player salaries average $1,000 a month, which is equivalent to what a player in the California League makes. Rookies make $700 a month. Rickey Henderson made $3,000 a month this season playing for the San Diego Surf Dawgs.
Patel said he wanted to put a franchise in Reno because he liked the demographics of the area. He said the GBL is geared toward families, and that fans will like the fact they can go to a GBL game for $5.
Notes: Carson City native Juliana Paoli is general manager of the San Diego Surf Dawgs. ... Henderson hit 3-for-5 in a California Division-clinching 12-3 win last week over the Surprise Fightin' Falcons. ... Surprise rookie outfielder Josh Green, a former Galena High standout, is currently hitting .299 with four home runs and 40 RBIs in 69 games.
n Darrell Moody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 881-1281