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Yuma baseball team getting 'fresh start' as Panthers
With a new ownership group and a franchise to rebuild, Godfather Media CEO Michael Cummings figured he might as well start from square one.
At a press conference Tuesday introducing Godfather Media as the new owner of the Yuma North American League franchise, Cummings announced a new business model, new field manager and a new name.
Garry Templeton was introduced as manager and the team announced that they will have a new ownership structure, with the public being able to buy stock in the Yuma Panthers, LLC.
Formerly the Scorpions, the franchise is digging into the distant baseball past and going to be the Yuma Panthers, with purple as the primary team color. The Panthers played in Yuma in 1950, according to franchise officials.
Will Joyce, who was introduced as president and co-owner of the Scorpions, said at first he was against the move since rebranding is always difficult. After talking with Cummings, he said, he changed his mind.
“We know there have been some issues in the past with some of the ownership,” Joyce said. “We understand that it's going to be an uphill battle to overcome some of those things. That's one of the reasons why we want to do a complete, fresh start by changing the name, changing the uniform colors, along with the new ownership, to make a commitment to the community.”
The Scorpions had a mixed history in Yuma that hit a low point in 2010 when the management group of the league-owned team — brought in by the league to handle day-to-day operations — allegedly stopped paying not only players but also obligations to area businesses.
Cummings, who stressed that a mobile and social media aspect will be a big part of the Panthers, said that the name change was needed.
“It'll prevent us from being looked at as the same past history of the Scorpions here. I think it will give us a new look. We're coming in fresh as a new organization, with a new idea and a new team. Not the same past history.”
One of the biggest changes to the front office came with the announcement that they would offer up minority interest in the team to the public. Shares cost $1 with a minimum purchase of 1,000.
“We want to get the community more involved in this,” Cummings said. “We understand there's a lot of history with the Scorpions. We want to open it up to the community for it to be their team, not our team. That's why we're going to do a different business model here.”
Joyce, who according to a press release has operated a minor league franchise prior to this, said one of the things that drew him to the Panthers was the public ownership.
“One of the things that enticed me was the thinking outside the box. One of the things Michael told me originally was his idea of opening up ownership to the local community ... I think that's a great concept, especially for minor league baseball. It's never been done before and it really intrigued me.”
Joyce said he hopes the new approach will be successful.
“Baseball insanity is doing the same thing day in and day out and expecting a different result. Starting in 2005 when this league was formed ... I think we all get caught up in that concept, how there's a traditional way of doing things. This fresh approach is the reason why I decided to partner with him.”
Edward Carifio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6882. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/EdwardCarifio