Scorpions to be affiliated with Colombian pro league
Less than 12 hours after the hospitality tax passed, its first effect was felt.
The Yuma Scorpions signed an affiliation agreement with the Colombian Professional Baseball League early Wednesday morning after league officials found out the result of the vote.
Golden Baseball League CEO Dave Kaval said the league still owns the Scorpions and the deal with the Colombian league is a standard affiliation deal, on par with the ones major league teams have with their minor league affiliates. Promotions, concessions and other front-office business remain with the Scorpions and President Mike Marshall, but on-the-field and player issues are handled by the Colombian league. Kaval said it's the first affiliation deal for a GBL team, and he said he believed it was the first affiliation deal with a foreign league for any American baseball team at any level.
"I think for Yuma, one, you get higher quality baseball, which is great; two, it's really a groundbreaking kind of thing for independent baseball," said Kaval about the two-year arrangement. "Yuma isn't an independent team. They play in an independent league against independent teams, but they are affiliated. So that's really good because it provides additional stability, higher quality of play, additional excitement with an international accent. It's really a cool thing."
With Yuma's season set to start 7 p.m. Friday at Desert Sun Stadium, the Scorpions will have a roster of players all from the Columbian pro league. The players who the Scorpions signed during the offseason have been released or traded.
Desert Sun Stadium is part of the larger Jim Deyo Complex, which would have lost funding if the 2 percent tax, levied against bars, restaurants and hotels, failed. The GBL had been in talks with the Colombian league and President Edinson Renteria, but didn't finalize the arrangement until the tax passed.
"We've been holding off a little because we didn't know the status of the hospitality tax," Kaval said. "I was absolutely shocked. We didn't think it would pass, so there was too much uncertainty about Yuma and the upkeep of the facility and all that, we can't sign this long-term agreement. And we had it lined up if it did pass, we'd pull the trigger on it. So 5:15 (Wednesday) morning, the players loaded a plane in Bogota, Columbia, and are on their way."
If the vote failed, the Scorpions may have had to move out of Yuma, and thus a multiyear agreement did not make sense, said GBL Commissioner Kevin Outcalt.
"After what happened with the arena, it seemed like it would have a tough time," Outcalt said. "We were going to work with the city to do whatever we possibly could that made sense to keep the complex going. If it was financially untenable to do that, then we were going to have to look at other options including moving the team, but I'm glad we didn't have to get to that point."
Marshall will remain as team president, but Boris Villa replaces him as manager.