Cutters not an Option for Camden

The Camden Riversharks may be vacating Campbell's Field in Camden, NJ. Since it's just across the river from Philadelphia, it might be an interesting spot for the Phillies to move a minor league team - most likely the Williamsport Crosscutters - close to home.

For independent baseball, Campbell's Field is one of the nicer venues. It's well-maintained and has a great view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Philadelphia skyline. It's been an integral part of the success of the Camden riverfront project, but now, it may be empty. The Camden Riversharks have played at the park since 2001.

Now, comes word that the Riversharks might be moving to a newly vacated park in New Britain, Connecticut. That venue wrapped up its run as the home park of the New Britain Rock Cats recently, ahead of the Cats moving to Hartford to become the Yard Goats - don't ask. The Rutgers-Camden Scarlet Raptors still call the park home, but their season doesn't go deep into the Summer, leaving a lot of open dates for the ballpark.

A recent move in baseball has been to have teams bring their minor league teams as close to their home city as possible. The Phillies have accomplished that with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Triple-A, Reading Fightin Phils at Double-A and the Lakewood BlueClaws in Low-A ball. Clearwater and the Gulf Coast League Phillies both play at the Phillies Spring Training complex in Clearwater, Florida and aren't going anywhere. That leaves the Williamsport Crosscutters. Williamsport, home of the Little League World Series, is about a three-hour drive from Philadelphia. Not horrible, but a little long for team executives to just pop-in and see the Phillies of tomorrow. Camden is a quick trip across the bridge.

Throw in the fact that the Crosscutters were just sold last Fall and you have the makings of a legitimate sounding rumor that the team would be the perfect fit for Camden. Actually, in a lot of ways, they would be a really good fit for Camden. Before you press start on the rumor mill though, hold on.

Gabe Sinicroppi, the Vice President for Marketing and Public Relations for the Crosscutters had this to say...

"We can assure you that the Crosscutters will again be in Williamsport next year. Additionally, we are in the process of working with the City of Williamsport and the State of PA on funding for major upgrades/improvements to Susquehanna Bank Park."

With the Cutters and the city negotiating for stadium improvements, there seems to be a commitment from both sides to keep the team at Susquehanna Bank Park. The team's attendance isn't quite what they may hope for, but when you consider that they're one of the smaller markets in the New York - Penn League, being toward the bottom of the league's attendance numbers is somewhat understandable. There have been improvements made to the ballpark over the years, but keeping the old-time feel and ambience of the place is important and they've been able to achieve that with the work that they've already done.

As for Camden's Campbell's Field, they'll likely have to set their sites on another independent league team, since the Phillies control what affiliated minor league teams could move into the facility. Teams are given a territory around their ballpark that no affiliated minor league - or another major league - team can move into without the consent of the team that controls that territory. It's that rule that is holding up the A's move to San Jose, because the San Francisco Giants territory includes San Jose. It's unlikely that the Phillies would allow a team affiliated with another major league team to move into Camden, limiting them to looking for an independent team.

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