Waterloo Bucks Could Soon Be Under New Ownership
The city of Waterloo has been without a professional baseball team since the Diamonds left town in 1994. By the end of 2014, minor league baseball could have a presence in the Cedar Valley again.
The group that owns the Cedar Rapids Kernels wants to acquire the Waterloo Bucks and take over day-to-day operations of the 20-year-old Northwoods League franchase before the 2015 season begins.
“Our hope is that we can come to an agreement and close on the sale in October,” said Kernels General Manager Doug Nelson.
The potential purchase of the Bucks by the Cedar Rapids Ball Club, Inc. is subject to Northwoods League approval and obtaining a lease for Riverfront Stadium from the city of Waterloo. The Midwest League and the President of Minor League Baseball have already approved the purchase, but the transaction is being reviewed by the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
“At this point in time, the Kernels are in exclusive negotiations to purchase the Bucks,” Waterloo General Manager Dan Corbin said. “Right now, we're in the discussion phase.”
The Bucks are currently owned by Twin Sports Group, which is headed by twin brothers John and Steve Marso of Minneapolis. They purchased the team from Waterloo Black Hawks owner Butch Johnson in 2004.
If the sale is approved, the Kernels would keep the Bucks in Waterloo and retain Corbin as the team's General Manager. Corbin believes the sale will be a positive thing for the Cedar Valley.
“This will allow us the chance to enhance the experience at Riverfront Stadium,” Corbin said. “We're basically a three-man front office right now.
“(The sale) will allow us to have additional resources for off-season and in-season duties that we have. Also, we can combine some of our buying power. I see it as a total positive for the Bucks and the Cedar Valley.”
Buying the Bucks makes sense for the Kernels, according to Nelson.
“(Waterloo) is a perfect geographical match for Cedar Rapids,” he said. “Waterloo is far enough away from Cedar Rapids that it's a distinct market, so we wouldn't be competing against each other. On the other hand (the teams) are close enough where we can share resources back and forth.
“The Waterloo Bucks do a lot of great things that we'd like to bring to Cedar Rapids. We have some things in Cedar Rapids that we do that we think will help the fan experience at Waterloo Bucks games.”
Neither Nelson or Corbin would disclose the purchase price. Expansion franchises in the Northwoods League, though, are currently going for about $1 million.
The Bucks were founded in 1995, one year after Waterloo's Midwest League professional team was sold and moved out of town. The Bucks are one of 18 teams in the Northwoods League, a circuit consisting of college players playing a 72-game schedule from late May to early August.
The city of Cedar Rapids has had professional baseball since 1890 and has been a member of the Midwest League since 1962. Currently, the Kernels are the Class-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.