• R.I.P. Newark Bears

    Posted by on April 27th, 2014 · Comments (4)

    Via the Ledger -

    “If you build it, they will come.”

    That was the signature line from the baseball epic “Field of Dreams,” which, if nothing else, proved it was easier to attract ghosts to a cornfield in the middle of Iowa than it was to attract live fans to downtown Newark.

    So today’s signature line at the city’s Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium was somehow sadly inevitable.

    “If you liquidate it, they will come.”

    So as Newark Bears owner Doug Spiel stood at the front of a crowd watching an auctioneer rattle off bid numbers to sell everything, he could be excused for thinking if this many people came to games, he’d still be in business.

    But they didn’t and he’s not.

    “At one point we gave away 1,000 tickets and only a few people showed up,” he said.

    The field at the stadium is game ready. The outfield grass today was neatly trimmed in decorative semicircles, the infield manicured and the red clay basepaths were intact.

    But there will be no baseball at the 6,200-seat stadium for the foreseeable future. The minor league ball park, which cost $30 million to build and was seen as a cornerstone of Newark’s downtown revival, does not have a team. The Newark Bears are out of business, as in “everything must go.”

    So today they came. Fans, memorabilia collectors, restaurant owners, landscapers. Word had it a city official from Rockland, N.Y., was there to bid on the team bus.

    And some were there to mourn.

    “It’s like going to a wake, like saying goodbye to an old friend,” said Dave Sosidka, a teacher at North Hunterdon High School. Sosidka lives in Clinton but brought his two sons to Newark to see the Bears two or three times a year.

    I guess they can turn the ballpark into an outdoor flea market…or maybe an open air methadone clinic.

    Comments on R.I.P. Newark Bears

    1. Raf
      April 27th, 2014 | 8:40 am

      It was only a matter of time, the Bears franchise had been struggling for years.

    2. redbug
      April 27th, 2014 | 9:14 am

      Plus, it was in a rough neighborhood. You could see the stadium going by on NJ Transit. As inviting as it looked inside, it had the opposite effect on the outside.

    3. April 27th, 2014 | 7:54 pm

      I went to a Bears game, years ago, when I was on a quest to see every pro baseball park in operation in the state of NJ. Have to say, the ballpark was an armpit. Nothing special about it. No fun in between innings. It was like watching a pick-up game in a parking garage.

    4. Raf
      April 27th, 2014 | 10:22 pm

      redbug wrote:

      Plus, it was in a rough neighborhood.

      The neighborhood wasn’t all that bad, it’s not like it was up the line in Irvington :)

      The stadium was located in an accessible area (light rail, commuter rail, and I-280, just seemed that there was no reason for anyone to go, no “hook” for the casual fan.

      It would’ve been interesting to see how attendance would’ve fared had the SWB Yanks played there for a year back in 2012.

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