The stadium is a gem. The players are decent quality. The fans of the Syracuse Chiefs, well, they're a little hard to come by. A nice stadium with good ball players has little value if not enough people turn out to watch the games. The Board of Directors of the Syracuse Chiefs ball club voted tonight to remove long time general manager John Simone. That is a big move. John and his father Tex have kept the Chiefs going for the last 40 plus years.
I grew up attending Syracuse Chiefs baseball games. It was an easy ride for our family from Liverpool the the north side stadium. Back then the New York Yankees were the major league parent club. Later it was the expansion Toronto Blue Jays. Attendance was better than it is now for certain. Although even then the nights when the stadium was really packed were the nights when companies bought out the stadium and gave away the tickets.
The newly formed board of directors and the next general manager face a tall order. It will require a multi-phase plan to return success to the Chiefs. I would suggest a thorough inventory of the top ten most successful minor league operations in the nation. Steal some ideas with a proven track record for improving attendance. The numbers could start to pop on a more regular basis.
The longer term view is more challenging. Baseball no longer holds the position in our culture that it once did. Especially in a community where soccer and lacrosse are dominating youth athletics baseball is losing ground. The Syracuse Chiefs should become engaged in organizing leagues and bringing their players out into the community.
These future major leaguers are on the verge of becoming wealthy and famous. The Nationals had a down year, but it's likely they'll be back playing for a championship over the next few seasons. Steven Strasburg and Bryce Harper certainly have the talent to get to the World Series. That potential should translate into a high level of interest in getting to know the Syracuse players. The effort must come from the Chiefs to grow baseball locally and attract more fans to the stadium.
It is surprising that a board filled with longtime entrenched members took action that did not favor the Simone family. In the end these gray haired business men who run the board share in the culpability of the team's failures over so many seasons.
Aside from the nostalgic connection to the past, the organization needed to reinvigorate. Let's see if a new manager could put a better all team on the field and more of us in the stands to watch.
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