Whether to bring an independent baseball team to Burlingame will be up for consideration by the Parks and Recreation Commission Thursday and some local community members do not support the idea.
If commissioners approve of the idea, it must still go before the City Council for final approval. If that happens, a new Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Club team would begin this coming summer with a May to August 2014 season at Washington Park.
Jim Hayes, who is retired, but works as an independent baseball scout, is bringing the proposal forward to the commission. If the commission doesn’t approve of the plan, Hayes said he won’t proceed with the idea since league schedules are set up in October and November. This would be the first independent league team Hayes has started.
“The biggest obstacle was the youth leagues because we don’t want to displace anybody,” Hayes said. “The only opposition we’re getting is from the Burlingame Youth Baseball Association. I’m willing to work with them in any way possible. They’re worried we would push them off the field.”
These field use requirements decimate the high school summer youth program, said Mike Brunicardi, current president of the Burlingame Youth Baseball Association.
“We’re obviously not against baseball, but we can’t support this,” Brunicardi said. “We feel strongly that the city needs to prioritize field space for the community. I know he [Hayes] wants to change our hours of use in Washington Park from 1 p.m.-4 p.m., so he can have it from 4 p.m. to the end of day. We have coaches that have full-time jobs and are not available during daytime business hours. Our players are local students and have responsibilities: some do summer school, internship programs, placement tests for college and summer jobs.”
The recreation supervisor sent Hayes a schedule from last summer and the youth league used the field 63 days last summer, Hayes said. They would only have to move off field 11 out of the 63 days, all practice days, not games they’d have to move for, he said.
“I altered our schedule to accommodate them,” said Hayes, who is also a professional pitching coach in the Puerto Rico Instructional Baseball League during January and February. “I hope they [the commission] will push this to the council.”
The field is the only full-sized field in Burlingame that can accommodate high school kids, Brunicardi said.
“If we’re displaced, we have nowhere else to go,” Brunicardi said. “They’d basically take over the field for a week at a time. Maybe he can build a facility on the waterfront.”
He added that Hayes also wants to serve alcohol, which he said is a hazard since there’s a parking lot next to the field that belongs to Burlingame High School.
Looking in the Bay Area for a location, Hayes also considered San Leandro and Fairfield. Tickets would be $7 a piece and concession prices would be lower than in the major leagues, he said.
“I would like the community to come out and see what I have to say,” Hayes said.
The one time buy-in fee is $25,000, which Hayes said he will pay. He would raise money through advertising, sponsorships, donations and season ticket sales, he said.
In terms of a potential name for the proposed team, Hayes would like to have a contest to let the citizens send in name ideas. The team would be independent, meaning it would not be affiliated with any major league teams.
The meeting will take place 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19 at the Burlingame Recreation Center, 850 Burlingame Ave.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105
NOTE TO READERS: This article has been changed. The team is not affiliated with minor league baseball and would be independent.