Crushers Win! Frontier League Champs!

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  • 12-24-09: State legislators seek tax exemption for Avon stadium

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  • 12-21-11: Light pole breaks at Crushers' stadium

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 9-24-09, by Dan Gilles

    ``Crushers players enjoy their victory ... Wednesday [9-23-09] at the T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O'Fallon, Missouri

    The dream goal for an inaugural season for the Lake Erie Crushers came true Wednesday night at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O'Fallon, Mo., as the Crushers emerged from an offensive slugfest to defeat the River City Rascals 13-10 and win Game 5 of the Frontier League Championship Series.

    That's right, the Lake Erie Crushers, the first-year expansion team, are Frontier League champions, and are bringing a championship home to Avon, Lorain County and Northeast Ohio.

    "When I managed in Washington (Pa.), I thought that was the best setting in minor league baseball, and what we experienced this year, in Avon at the Freight with those fans, this surpassed that," Crushers manager John Massarelli said ...

    Many fans made the 10-hour trek to O'Fallon, just outside of St. Louis, while 2,100 other fans listened to the live Webcast by Dave DeNatale on the team's Web site ...

    Commentator 1 says:

    Congrats to the Crushers after a magical inaugural season. The Browns, Indians, and Cavs should probably pay attention to the Crushers. It's great to have a professional team in the area win the championship.''

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    NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 9-24-09, by Dan Gilles

    ``Crushers 13, Rascals 10: Crushers win it all ...

    With Rascals ace Josh Lowey looking strong through four innings, it appeared River City's early 3-1 lead might just hold up.

    But that was before Lake Erie brought some of that "Freight Magic" with it all the way from Avon. You know, that magic that has been so instrumental to this first-year team at their home field, All Pro Freight Stadium ...

    Well, the Crushers found more than enough of that magic in O'Fallon, Mo., on Wednesday night, sending 10 batters to the plate in the top of the fifth and scoring seven runs to break the game open and send Lake Erie to a 13-10 victory in Game 5 of the Frontier League Championship Series ...

    A championship is coming to Northeast Ohio, and it's from a team based in Lorain County.

    "Getting here from the beginning made it special," Crushers manager John Massarelli said. "I had a chance to manage for a championship a few years ago, but we didn't win it. There's so many plays that have to go your way, and they went our way this year, and, specifically, in this game, that enabled us to win this championship."

    Todd Balduf, who two weeks ago was out of baseball and selling insurance, led off the big fifth with a walk. Jodam Rivera drew a walk on a full count and Drew Saylor bunted the runners into scoring position.

    Lowey was pulled for Tony Marsala, who intentionally walked eventual series MVP Andrew Davis to load the bases for designated hitter Gordon Gronkowski.

    Gronkowski worked the count full, then took a high pitch for ball four, driving in the first run of the inning.

    Tim Binkoski, who was one of three Crushers with three hits in the game, lined a single into right-center field to score Rivera with the tying run. That started a string of five consecutive hits by the Crushers.

    Tyler Johnson followed with a bases-clearing double to make it a 6-3 game, but Johnson was thrown out trying to advance to third on the throw to the plate ...

    Eddie Tisdale and Arden McWilliams had two-out singles, and Balduf finished what he started, lining a two-run single into left to make it 8-3 ...

    Rascals catcher Danny Sawyer hit a two-run home run in the sixth off eventual winner Paul Fagan, who came on in relief of starter Cardoza Tucker to start the fifth inning, cutting the lead to 8-5. But Lake Erie had some more two-out magic up its sleeve.

    Tisdale had his third hit of the evening in the top of the seventh to start the rally. McWilliams walked and Balduf drove in Tisdale with a single to make it 9-5. Then, Rivera lined a single up the middle to score McWilliams to make it 10-5 ...

    Josh Faiola came on in the seventh, and he gave up an RBI double to Ernie Banks and a two-run home run to Chris Colton (his first of two homers in the game). But Jacinto Gonell got the Crushers out of the inning without any further damage, but the lead was down to 10-8.

    The Crushers got those three runs back in the top of the eighth, thanks to an RBI double by Wayne Bond, in his lone at-bat, and a two-run single by McWilliams, making it 13-8.

    But it wouldn't be a Northeast Ohio championship game without some ninth-inning dramatics.

    Closer J.J. Pacella allowed a leadoff single to Banks and a one-out two-run home run by Colton to cut the lead to three. But Pacella did what Jose Mesa failed to do back in 1997 for the Indians, settling down and coaxing Sawyer to fly out and Jorge Gutierrez to ground out to third to end the game, the series and River City's championship dreams ...

    Davis, thanks to his grand slam in Game 4 and his .324 postseason batting average, was named MVP on a vote fby media members and other team personnel ...

    Tisdale, a rookie, went 3-for-5, lifting his postseason average to .354.

    "There's no words for this, man. No words," he said. "We just went out and tried to play our best ball. There's nothing more you can say about these guys. My three hits would have been nothing without the play of the rest of the guys." ...''

    Contact Dan Gilles at ctsports@chroniclet.com.

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    NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 9-24-09, By TODD SHAPIRO, tshapiro@MorningJournal.com

    ``Crushers win title in first season with 13-10 victory

    O'FALLON, Mo. -- In their inaugural season, the Lake Erie Crushers did what no other Northeast Ohio professional baseball team has done in over a half a century -- end the season with a victory celebration.

    The Crushers defeated River City, 13-10, Wednesday to win the Frontier League Championship at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in the St. Louis suburb of O'Fallon, coming back to sweep three straight games after losing the first two of the series.

    In a matter of months Lake Erie manager John Massarelli put together a team that included just the right mix of Frontier League veteran, castoffs from other organizations and recent college graduates to finish the season in second place in the Eastern Division, just 1/2 game behind defended division champs Kalamazoo. The Crushers then knocked off the Kings in a five-game series to earn to the right to place for the title.

    Lake Erie broke the game wide open in the fifth inning, sending 11 men to the plate and scoring seven runs. No. 9 hitter, catcher Todd Balduf and lead-off hitter Jodam Rivera got the inning started with walks. Drew Saylor then put down a sacrifice bunt off of reliever Tony Marsala.

    Marsala then walked Andrew Davis to load the bases and get to designated hitter Gordie Gronkowski. Gronkowski, an All-Star and the Crushers leading run producer in the regular season, was hitless in his previous seven at-bats, but he drew a bases loaded walk to score Balduf.

    The next batter, Tim Binkoski, also drew a bases loaded walk. Then Johnson, a mid-season acquisition who was released in July by El Paso of the American Association, delivered the biggest hit in Crushers history, a three-run, base-clearing double to left field that gave the Crushers a 6-3 lead.

    Cardoza Tucker started for the Crushers and went four innings. Tucker was perfect in a Lake Erie uniform, going 4-0 in the regular season and earning the win in extra innings in Game 5 of the Eastern Division Playoff series against Kalamazoo.

    Paul Fagan, the winner of Sunday's Game 3 entered the game out of the bullpen in the fifth inning and quickly allowed hits to Scott Houin and JoJo Batten, but got two of the top hitter in the Frontier League, Chad Maddox and Ernie Banks to hit come-backers to the mound to squelch the Rascals rally.

    Fagan, the top pitcher in the Frontier League this season, was credited with the win in the championship game.

    River City cut the Crushers lead to three in the sixth inning with a two-run home run by Danny Sawyer, the Rascals third round-tripper of the night. Lake Erie answered back with a pair of runs in the top half of the seventh on RBI singles by Balduf and Rivera.

    River City scored three runs in the seventh off of Josh Faiola to again to cut the Lake Erie lead to two. Center fielder Chris Colton's two-run shot to left was the Rascals 12th home run of the post season. Colton would hit another two-run shot, this one in the ninth off Crushers closer J.J. Pacella, but it was too little, too late.

    The Rascals got off to a quick start in the first inning when Chad Maddox knocked a Tucker pitch deep into the left field bleachers to give River City a 1-0 lead. The Rascals pushed home a second run later that inning when Ernie Banks came home on a wild pitch. The damage could have been worse but Scott Houin led off the inning with a double and was gunned down at third as he attempted to advance as the cutoff throw skipped through the infield.

    Lake Erie got on the board in the second on an RBI single by Arden McWilliams that scored Binkoski. Binkoski, who has played sparingly during the post-season, got the start in left field and singled to start off the second. Wayne Bond came on a defensive replacement in left field in the seventh inning. Bond added to the Lake Erie lead with an RBI single in his first at-bat of the game in the eighth inning.

    Banks hit his third home run of the post-season in the third inning, a solo shot that landed in the River City bullpen, increasing the Rascals lead to 3-1.

    Lake Erie threatened to score in the fourth inning getting a one-out walk from Tyler Johnson and an infield single from Eddie Tisdale. However, the next batter, McWilliams, hit into a 6-3 double play to end the inning. McWilliams would atone for the early rally killer with a eighth inning single that plated a pair of runs.

    River City starter Josh Lowey, who was 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA against the Crushers in the regular season, allowed at least two base runners in three of the first four innings but was helped out by a pair of double plays.

    Lowey left the game after walking the first two batters of the fifth inning and recorded and did not factor in the decision.

    The bottom of the order came up big for Lake Erie. No. 6 hitter Johnson, No.8 hitter McWilliams and No. 9 hitter Balduf all had three RBI's as part of the Crushers 15 barrage.

    The Rascals also made their first trip to the Frontier League Championship Series this season. River City has just two playoff appearances since moving to Missouri from Zanesville, Ohio in 1999.

    Commentator 2 wrote on Sep 24, 2009 1:48 AM:

    "Who would have thunk it back in May? Nice to see one team in this are win it all. Now its the Cavs turn.

    Also, the professional indoor soccer team, the Cleveland Crunch won a title in the 90's so I guess that counts as a pro title.

    I'd like to know if they have a celebration planned and who is possibly returning to the club next year ...

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    Commentator 3 wrote on Sep 24, 2009 5:18 AM:

    "Cograts to the crushers,what a wonderfull season.maybe the indians can look at some of theese players.again congrats on the championship."

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    Commentator 4 wrote on Sep 24, 2009 5:52 AM:

    "Sweet! Finally some baseball to be proud of here on the south shore of Lake Erie!"

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    Commentator 5 wrote on Sep 24, 2009 6:14 AM:

    "Congrats to the Lake Erie Crushers, after a wonderful inaugural season. The Browns, Indians, and Cavs should probably pay attention to the Crushers."

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    Commentator 6 wrote on Sep 24, 2009 7:11 AM:

    "Congrats to Coach Mazz, the players, and the entire organization. Well done!"

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    Commentator 7 wrote on Sep 24, 2009 7:33 AM:

    "THE TRIBE IS LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD MEN"''

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    Crushers began as an homage to grape-crushing wine makers in the area but has expanded to represent the tough, hardworking nature of Clevelanders ...

    www.lakeeriecrushers.com/

    FEATURE ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 10-4-09, By TODD SHAPIRO tshapiro@MorningJournal.com

    Crushers 2009 season in review

    From the first pitch of their inaugural season on Memorial Day weekend to a Frontier League Championship celebration in late September, the Lake Erie Crushers provided area fans with a summer full of baseball excitement.

    Before the final sounds of the cheers from All-Pro Freight Stadium fade into the winter winds let's take a month-by-month look at the Crushers championship run.

    May [2009]

    As the finishing touches were being placed on their new ballpark, the Crushers opened the season with a nine-game road trip traveling to Washington, Windy City and Rockford.

    In Washington, manager John Massarelli's Crushers won their first-ever game with a 10-7 win over the Wild Things. Paul Fagan showed the form that would earn him the Frontier League Pitcher of the Year Award by winning his first start in a Lake Erie uniform.

    The Crushers won two of three games in Washington before heading west, where they were swept by the defending champion Thunderbolts before taking two-of-three from Rockford to come home with a 5-4 record.

    The Crushers had a number of hitting stars in the month of May with Jodam Rivera leading the team with a .327 average. Drew Saylor had an early power burst with three of his first nine hits leaving the yard.

    June

    Lake Erie won four of its first six home games, including a three-game sweep of Rockford, before traveling to Kalamazoo to take on a Kings team that would eventually edge them out for the division title.

    In late June the Crushers would get their bats going, scoring 10 or more runs five times in a nine game stretch -- including a season-high 19 runs against the Kings on June 23.

    Third baseman Andrew Davis and designated hitter Gordon Gronkowski had a lot to do with the Crushers power surge.

    Davis had eight home runs and batted .355 in the month of June. Gronkowski, who was on his way to becoming a fan favorite in Avon, belted seven round trippers while hitting .345.

    Outfielder Tim Binkowski also had his best month of the season, batting .374 with 14 RBIs.

    Fagan won five of his six starts in the month of June with a 2.45 ERA. Brent Lysander was 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts for Lake Erie.

    Jacinto Gonell showed the form that made him a back of the bullpen stalwart in the Crushers playoff run by recording six saves, including three in the final four days of the month.

    Lake Erie finished the month with 17-12 record to move to six games over .500 at 22-16 for the year.

    July

    July was the month where the Crushers transformed from a first-year expansion team to a championship contender.

    The month started with the Crushers winning back-to-back extra inning affairs against Midwest and Florence, but the team went into All-Star Break reeling, losing four-in-a-row at home. Three of those losses came at the hands of a River City team that they would eventually face in the Frontier League Championship Series ...

    By the month's end, four players who would become a critical part of the Crushers post-season run -- starting pitchers Cardoza Tucker and Chris Rigo, reliever Jorge Charry and outfielder Tyler Johnson -- joined the team.

    Lake Erie recovered from the mid-season swoon to take four-of-six on a post-All Star game road trip to Gateway and River City.

    Lake Erie came back home to experience a little All-Pro Freight Stadium magic, sweeping the Freedom and winning two-of-three against the Kings.

    Saylor (.330) and Rivera (.326) were the Crushers top hitters during the month. Fagan again led the team in wins, going 4-0 with a 3.50 ERA. Kevin Skogley pitched the first-ever complete game shutout in Crushers history before leaving the team due to injury.

    Lake Erie was 13-11 in the month of July to improve its record to 36-27.

    August

    By the time the month of August rolled around it was apparent that the Crushers had a legitimate chance at securing one of the four Frontier League post-season playoff positions.

    The month started with the Crushers taking two of three from Kalamazoo in the final series of year between the two teams battling for the Eastern Division title.

    After winning consecutive against Midwest, Southern Illinois and Evansville, the Crushers were riding high with a 46-32 record when they traveled to Southern Illinois for a three-game series against a Miners team that at the time was in the midst of a three-team pennant race in the Western Division.

    It was against Southern Illinois that the Crushers experienced one of the lowest points of their season, getting swept by the Miners ... losing the final two games of the series in the last at-bat.

    The Crushers did not get discouraged.

    Needing wins to keep in the playoff hunt with two of the league's weaker teams coming to All Pro Freight Stadium, Lake Erie took care of business, sweeping Evansville and Washington to move to 17 games over .500.

    Fagan, who had ERA of 1.93 in five starts in August, won two games during that pivotal home stand.

    J.J. Pacella took over the bulk of the closer duties for Lake Erie, recording six saves in the month.

    Gronkowski, who ended up winning the Frontier League's citizenship award, hit .341 and hit a team-high five home runs in the month of August.

    Johnson, who along with Tucker was acquired from El Paso of the American Association, provided a needed burst of speed for Lake Erie, stealing eight bases in his first full month with the team.

    September

    The Crushers entered the final week of the regular season with the playoffs well within their reach.

    Lake Erie pitchers allowed just six runs in a three-game sweep of Florence.

    The team came home for the final weekend of the season needing a combination of two wins or Kalamazoo losses to earn a trip to the playoffs.

    After laying an egg in the opener, falling 9-1 to the Sliders, on September 5, Lake Erie came back from four runs down twice in the game, including in the 10th innings to win an 11-10, 11 inning thriller and clinch its first post-season appearance.

    Westlake native Chris Rigo picked up the win in the 11-inning thriller and turned around to pick up the win in relief the next day as the Crushers finished the regular season with a 57-38 record.

    Next up for the Crushers was a trip to Kalamazoo for the best-of-five Eastern Division Playoff series against Kalamazoo.

    Eastern Division Series

    The series opened in Kalamazoo and Tucker struggled in Game 1, giving up six runs and seven hits in just 1 2/3 innings.

    But the Crushers offense battled back with Wayne Bond hitting a pair of homers as Lake Erie came back to win, 8-7.

    The Crushers' batters hit six home runs in the opening game of the series. In Game 2 it was Fagan's turn to get rocked, giving up six runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings as Kalamazoo evened the series at one game each with a 10-4 win.

    The series shifted back to Avon for Game 3 and a trio of Lake Erie pitchers, Lysander, Alberto Rolon and Pacella, combined on a three-hitter as the Crushers took a 2-1 lead in series with a 4-2 win.

    First baseman Eddie Tisdale, who was Lake Erie's leading hitter in the post-season, had a pair of hits in the win.

    When the Crushers scored five runs in the first inning of Game 4, fans started making plans for a trip to River City.

    Kalamazoo had other thoughts. Lake Erie would not score another run the rest of the game and the Kings would battle back to tie the game and eventually took the lead with a run in the eighth inning.

    The Kings won the game 7-5, forcing a deciding fifth game back in Kalamazoo.

    Lake Erie had to like its chances in Game 5, sending Fagan to the mound. He did not disappoint, pitching 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball before turning the ball over to the bullpen with a 2-1 lead.

    Disaster struck for Lake Erie in the ninth inning with Tucker, pitching in relief on 1-days rest, uncorked a wild pitch that allowed the game-tying run to score to force extra innings.

    In the top half of the tenth, Saylor and Johnson hit a pair of two-run homers to give Lake Erie a 6-2 win and send team onto the Frontier League Championship Series, which would get under way three days later in O' Fallon, Missouri where they were set to face the River City Rascals.

    Championship Series [2009]

    The Series started off on a rough note for the Crushers as they were shut out for the first time since July 31 in a 6-0 game 1 loss.

    No Lake Erie batter had more than one hit in the contest.

    In Game 2, Lake Erie belted out 14 base hits, including three each from Davis and Gronkowski, but River City scored a run in the ninth inning off of Pacella to win 6-5 and take a commanding 2-0 lead with the series coming back to All Pro Freight Stadium for Game 3.

    Fagan was back on track, pitching in front nearly 4,000 fans that came out hoping not to see the final game of the season.

    Fagan got his second win of the post-season and Pacella regained his form to pitch a perfect ninth as Lake Erie won 3-1 to force Game 4, the final home game of the 2009 season.

    The Rascals grabbed a first-inning, 1-0 lead, but in the fifth inning Andrew Davis changed the momentum of the game and the series with a grand slam home run to put the Crushers ahead 4-1.

    Gonell, Rolon and Pacella combined to pitch 2 2/3 innings on no-hit relief as Lake Erie held on for a 4-1 win to force a fifth and deciding game on the road for the second time in the post-season.

    Another 11-hour bus ride to Missouri under their belt, the Crushers and Rascals left it all on the field in Game 5.

    Each team had 15 hits and River City hit five home runs in the friendly confines of T.H. Hughes Ballpark, but a seven-run fifth inning game Lake Erie a lead it would never relinquish.

    At 10:23 p.m. CDT, Pacella recorded the final out of a 13-10 win, and a dream that started early in the Spring became a reality.

    The Lake Erie Crushers were Frontier League Champions in the team's inaugural season of play.

    Arden McWilliams had three hits and drove in three runs in Game 5.

    A panel of media members and Frontier League officials named Andrew Davis as the Frontier League Championship Series MVP.

    With one of the best facilities and one of the top managers in the FL, Crushers fans expect that they may be more championships season's to come in Lorain County.''

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    NEWS ARTYICLE from The Plain Dealer, 11-15-09, By Peter Krouse

    'Major League' Tax Exemption?

    ``AVON, Ohio -- This city may not be a Major League town, but Law Director John Gasior would like to think it's in the ballpark.

    The city has filed an amended request to have its new recreational complex, including the $12 million All Pro Freight Stadium, declared tax exempt for 2009 ...

    The state approved an exemption for 2009 ... but questions have been raised as to whether the stadium qualifies for such status. The resolution could depend on how the state defines the term "major league."

    The stadium has been leased to the Lake Erie Crushers, a professional baseball team. The Crushers are affiliated with the Frontier League, which has no connection with Major League Baseball.

    The Ohio Revised Code exempts such a stadium if it is "used by a major league professional athletic team or a class A to class AAA minor league affiliate of a major league baseball team for a significant portion of its home schedule."

    Some might construe that to mean the Crushers do not meet the requirement because they are not affiliated with Major League Baseball. John Gasior, the Avon law director, disagrees ...

    He contends the Crushers could be classified as a major league professional athletic team, as stated in the state code -- with emphasis on a generic, common-noun meaning to the phrase -- even though the Crushers are not affiliated with Major League Baseball proper.

    He also said the Crushers team promotes itself as class A baseball, even though it's not affiliated with Major League Baseball.

    Gasior said he hopes the state will see it his way, if only because the Crushers are a professional baseball team brought to the park by the city for economic development purposes.

    Otherwise, he said, the state would be treating one professional team differently from others, such as the Major League Baseball affiliates in Akron, Toledo, Dayton and Eastlake.

    "Why should we be treated differently than the Captains in Eastlake?" Gasior said, referring to the Class A South Atlantic League baseball team affiliated with Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians.

    If the city prevails in having the stadium declared tax exempt, it would probably save $18,000 to $20,000 in taxes a year, Mayor Jim Smith said.

    The Crushers pay the city $250,000 a year to lease the park. The lease allows the team to keep all revenue from ticket sales, concessions, parking, in-park advertising and luxury seating. It also keeps all revenue from non-baseball events staged at the park by the team, while collecting on concessions during city-hosted events.

    Avon voters agreed to fund the 122-acre recreation complex with a new income tax on people who work in the city.

    Avon did not try to mislead the state with its previous application in which it was awarded tax-exempt status for 2009, Gasior said. He said the application was actually seeking a refund for taxes paid on city property in 2008 that still had not been developed. That application was sent to the state in January 2009 when the baseball stadium was still being built.

    Avon also seeks to justify tax-exempt status for the recreational complex because of other uses. The Crushers will sublease the stadium to Cleveland State University and it could be the site of high school games. The YMCA also will operate a city-owned recreation center at the complex across the street from the stadium.

    Ohio Department of Taxation spokesman John Kohlstrand said the state has received the new application, but he declined to comment on the legitimacy of the major league/Major League argument.

    He said that if Avon's interpretation is accepted, the stadium and related improvements to the land could be exempt but it's unlikely that the land beneath the park will be exempt because of other narrowly defined eligibility requirements.''

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    ARTICLE FROM The Morning Journal, 12-24-09, By MEGAN ROZSA, mrozsa@MorningJournal.com

    [State legislators seek tax exemption for Avon stadium]

    ``AVON -- In an effort to level the playing field between affiliated and non-affiliated baseball teams, state officials introduced legislation yesterday that will make non-affiliated teams' stadiums tax exempt. This means cities such as Avon would not have to pay property tax on All Pro Freight Stadium, home of the Lake Erie Crushers.

    State Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria, and State Sen. Sue Morano, D-Lorain, said the legislation will enable competitiveness with other states whose baseball stadiums are already tax exempt. The tax exempt status will make Ohio regions more attractive for teams.

    "Other states are not placing a tax on stadiums associated with independent teams," Lundy said. "By offering this exemption, Ohio would have the same competitive advantage as other states in their effort to attract an independent baseball team to their region."

    Avon Mayor Jim Smith is supporting the legislation. "Why should a team be treated any different because it's not affiliated?" Smith said. "It doesn't make sense, does it? They just want to be treated the same as every other affiliate team."

    Earlier this year, the city had a problem with the Ohio Department of Taxation when it was discovered the stadium had been labeled tax-exempt, but it wasn't supposed to be.

    When Finance Director William Logan filed tax papers for 2008, the stadium didn't exist on the land parcels. Once it opened, the filing was never changed. Shortly after getting the notice, Logan filed for 2009 and included the stadium. However, Smith said he would fight to maintain the tax-exempt status.

    Smith said his city has seen much more traffic because of All Pro Freight Stadium. He hopes that future development will bring even more visitors to his city. "We're using baseball to draw people to the I-90 interchange and Lorain County," Smith said. "If not all stadiums are taxed the same, the ability to have entertainment, quality of life and economic development go out the window."

    Making all stadiums tax-exempt will make it easier to do business and for other emerging teams to decide where they want to be located, Smith said.

    "If there are big issues in Ohio, teams will end up going somewhere else," Smith said. "More people will locate (in Ohio) and that's what creates major jobs."

    The legislation is now in tht Ohio House of Representatives and Senate committees.

    Lundy said he has seen the benefits of bringing an independent team to an area in the Lake Erie Crushers. "The Lake Erie Crushers in the Greater Cleveland area had a very successful first year in the Frontier League," Lundy said. "The response by the local community and region to see professional baseball at less than $15 a ticket is overwhelming."

    Current law says public recreational facilities used by minor league affiliates of a Major League Baseball team are exempt from taxation. However, this legislation would extend the exemption to emerging independent leagues such as the Frontier League.

    Morano said it is important to give independent league stadiums the same advantage as major league teams and stadiums.

    "It is important that we give these stadiums and teams all the advantages available to us so that Ohio can continue to enjoy America's pastime," Morano said. "Ohio has long been recognized as an historic state when it comes to baseball. We are home to the first fully professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings formed in 1869. My family and I enjoy going to the Lake Erie Crushers games at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon."''

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    ARTICLE FROM The Chronicle Telegram, 12-24-09, Filed by Melissa Hebert

    COLUMBUS -- Local representatives have introduced legislation to create a level playing field for minor-league baseball teams in the state.

    State representatives Matt Lundy, D-Elyria, and Dennis Murray, D-Sandusky, are sponsoring a bill in the state House of Representatives, and state senators Susan Morano, D-Lorain, and Mark Waggoner, R-Toledo, are sponsoring one in the Senate to allow professional baseball teams not affiliated with Major League Baseball franchises to exempt their stadiums from property taxes.

    Currently, public recreation facilities used by teams affiliated with Major League Baseball -- such as the Akron Aeros and Lake County Captains -- are exempt from paying property taxes, Lundy said, but unaffiliated teams such as the Lake Erie Crushers are not.

    Sandusky is vying for a Frontier League franchise, Lundy said, but the tax issue puts Ohio at a disadvantage when competing with Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Illinois to get teams from the league.

    The success of the Crushers, who won the Frontier League championship in their inaugural season this year, shows the value these teams can bring to communities, Lundy said.

    Families who may not be able to afford to go to a Cleveland Indians game can go to a Frontier League game for less than $15 per person.

    "Having these teams can really help the quality of life for a community," Lundy said. Lundy expects the bill to be assigned to a committee after the holidays.''

    Contact Melissa Hebert at mhebert@chroniclet.com.

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    ARTICLE FROM The The Plain Dealer, 12-25-09, By Aaron Marshall

    ``COLUMBUS -- State lawmakers are jogging in from the bullpen trying to bring late relief to Avon officials in the middle of a fight with the state tax department over whether the city's new minor-league baseball stadium qualifies for a tax exemption.

    At issue is Avon's new recreational complex -- which includes the new $12 million All Pro Freight Stadium -- and whether the facility can be declared exempt from property taxes for 2009.

    State Rep. Matt Lundy, an Avon Democrat and one of the chief sponsors of a bill introduced this week, said the legislation is aimed at making it clear that the Lake Erie Crushers who play at the stadium would qualify for the property tax exemption.

    The measure, which was introduced in both the Ohio House and in the Senate, where Sen. Sue Morano of Lorain is a chief sponsor, comes on the heels of a recent controversy over whether the city misled the Ohio Department of Taxation in a prior application seeking a refund of property taxes paid on the land in 2008.

    The state approved an exemption for 2009 based on the application, while denying most of the 2008 refund request, but questions have been raised as to whether the stadium qualifies for such status. Resolution of the issue may swing on how the state defines the term "major league."

    The stadium has been leased to the Crushers, a professional baseball team affiliated with the Frontier League, which has no connection with Major League Baseball.

    The Ohio Revised Code exempts such a stadium if it is "used by a major league professional athletic team or a class A to class AAA minor league affiliate of a major league baseball team for a significant portion of its home schedule."

    But Lundy said all levels of professional baseball should qualify for the tax break, and his bill provides a tax exemption for stadiums used by non-affiliate or independent baseball teams.

    "It's only fair that we have a level playing field here," he said. "It could give other teams an opportunity to come to Ohio as well."

    Lundy said that officials in Mansfield and Sandusky are interested in landing Frontier League teams following on the success of the Crushers, who began play June 2 and won the league championship. He said the Crushers "have been a real shot in the arm for the area and the region."

    John Kohlstrand, a spokesman for the state taxation department, said the state has recently restored the property to the list of taxable properties but that no final decision has been made. He explained that the property had to be listed as taxable before Dec. 31 just to keep the option open to list it that way once the final decision is handed down ...

    Avon officials have argued that if the exemption for the Crushers is denied that the state would be treating one professional team differently from others, such as the Major League Baseball affiliates in Akron, Toledo, Dayton and Eastlake.

    It isn't clear exactly how much money the city would save if the stadium is declared tax exempt, but Avon Mayor Jim Smith has estimated it would be in the $18,000 to $20,000 range.''

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    www.lakeeriecrushers.com

    The Lake Erie Crushers

    The Crushers will be sponsoring fireworks at All Pro Stadium after their regularly scheduled game on July 4, 2010.

    www.lakeeriecrushers.com/schedule/default/day/07-04-2010/

    Sunday, July 04, 2010, Crushers vs. Evansville Otters

    5:05 p.m.

    All Pro Freight Stadium

    2009 Baseball Boulevard

    Avon, Ohio 44011

    (p) 440.934.3636

    (f) 440.934.2458

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    www.lakeeriecrushers.com/news/default/6/278

    There will be a fireworks display at dusk on Monday, 7-4-11, right after the Lake Erie Crushers versus the River City Rascals game at All Pro Freight Stadium, with additional parking for those just wanting to watch the display.

    All Pro Freight Stadium

    2009 Baseball Boulevard

    Avon, Ohio 44011

    440.934.3636

    Monday July 4th, the game starts at 7:05 pm: In Celebration of the Fourth of July, the Crushers are hosting the City of Avon's Fireworks Show following the game.

    Military Discount Available July 1st-July 4th: $3 OFF Home Box or General Admission ticket price. This offer is extended to all active and veteran Military, including their family and friends.

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    chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2011/12/21/three-more-all-pro-freight-poles-found-to-have-cracks/

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 12-21-11, By Steve Fogarty

    [Light pole breaks at Crushers' stadium]

    AVON -- City officials plan to remove three 120-foot steel light poles identical to one that collapsed last week at the city-owned All Pro Freight Stadium.

    "We've got our engineers in there today checking them and will probably have them take down three more in the next couple days," Avon Mayor Jim Smith said Tuesday.

    The poles showed evidence of stress cracks near their bases, Smith said.

    The city is talking with Infinity Construction Co., a Warrensville Heights general contractor that built the $13.6 million minor-league ballpark opened by the city in 2009. The ballpark is leased from the city by the Lake Erie Crushers, a Frontier League minor league team.

    Infinity Construction subcontracted with other companies during construction, including the firm that manufactured the lights.

    "Infinity didn't put them up, but we're getting hold of them to pull them out so we can test them further," Smith said. "We want to get them down now and do some closer testing. We'll either get them repaired or replaced with new ones."

    Smith said previously that the loss of the pole and any damages should be covered by the firm that made it.

    The inspection of the ballpark's remaining seven light poles came after the Dec. 15 [2011] collapse of a light pole. The pole was located along the third-base line but stood just beyond the outside stadium wall. The mishap caused no injuries or damage, except for knocking out some brickwork and a gutter on the side of the stadium where it fell.

    The pole, which broke off near its base, came down during what may have been 35- to 40-mph wind gusts, but Smith contended the steel poles should have withstood such relatively light winds.

    Contact Steve Fogarty at sfogarty@chroniclet.com.

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