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.