With three teams – the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Reading Phillies and Lakewood BlueClaws – all playing in close proximity to the Philadelphia area, the Phillies have themselves set up well for both their front office members and fans to keep tabs on the Phillies of tomorrow. Now, the Phillies are looking to bring one of their remaining minor league clubs to the Philadelphia area as well.
A project to build a minor league ballpark in either West Chester or Phoenixville is well underway and could get an official go-ahead literally any day. Sources told Philly Baseball News that officials in Phoenixville have made an aggressive push and have given themselves an edge to be the winning area for the construction of a new ballpark.
It is believed that the new team would become the Class-A short-season affiliate of the Phillies, taking the place of the team that currently plays in Williamsport, PA. One source believes that the Phillies – or a group acting with their blessing – would purchase the Batavia MuckDogs of the New York-Penn League and relocate the team to open the 2013 season at the new ballpark. Batavia, which was a former Phillies affiliate, has struggled with attendance and poor facilities and is currently up for sale. The move would be much like the one that brought the Lehigh Valley IronPigs to Allentown, PA in 2008 after the Ottawa Lynx were purchased and then relocated to Allentown’s new Coca-Cola Park.
It’s possibly, although not highly likely, that the new ballpark could be for the club that currently plays in Clearwater, the High-A Clearwater Threshers. That team already plays in a facility owned by the Phillies and gives the club a warm weather facility for rehabbing players to start the season, if necessary.
One plan has Phoenixville building a stadium that would in many ways replicate Connie Mack Stadium, and the club would be known as the Phoenixville Athletics, an ode to the Philadelphia Athletics, who played in Philadelphia’s Connie Mack Stadium from 1909 through 1954. After that season, the Phillies called the stadium home until the construction of Veterans Stadium gave them a new home in 1971.
The Phillies affiliation agreement with Williamsport ends after the 2012 season, which would coincide with the target completion date of the new ballpark.