Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SOUTHERN LEAGUE NOTEBOOK; Stars Falling out of Favor with Fans

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SOUTHERN LEAGUE NOTEBOOK; Stars Falling out of Favor with Fans

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF ELLIOTT

On the field, the 25th anniversary of minor league baseball in Huntsville, Ala., has gone as well as could be expected.

The Stars won the first-half title in the Southern League's North Division.

Off the field, Stars fans and team officials are wondering if the team will still be in Huntsville at the end of next season.

A warning sign was sent last week when Gord Ash, assistant general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Stars' parent club, visited Huntsville and called the city "a very apathetic baseball town."

It wasn't a ringing endorsement for Huntsville to remain the Brewers' Double-A affiliate once the current contract expires after the 2010 season.

The problem is poor attendance.

Huntsville has drawn 59,407 fans for 39 home games this year, an average of 1,523 per game, the lowest in the Southern League.

The Jacksonville Suns lead the league in attendance with an average of 5,303 a game.

"This is a very apathetic baseball town, and something's going to have to change," Ash told the Huntsville (Ala.) Times. "They're going to be sorry in a couple of years when they don't have baseball. I don't know if they're going to lose the team, but they're going to lose our interest in being here because there's no enthusiasm.

"The record of the quality of clubs we've put here doesn't warrant the lack of support," Ash said.

Huntsville won the league championship two years ago, but the Stars were next-to-last in attendance with an average of 2,449 per game.

For most of the season last year, the Stars featured five of Milwaukee's top-10 prospects, including former Bishop Kenny standout Matt Gamel. Gamel is now with the Brewers. Despite the top prospects, the Stars' attendance dropped to an average of 2,389.

Stars general manager Buck Rogers said he can't fathom the possibility of Huntsville losing its minor-league team. …

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