ABL team confirms Chugiak move
Fire will play home games at Loretta French starting in 2012
Star file photo
An Alaska Baseball League team has a new home — now it just needs a new name.
Athletes in Action, which was an Alaska Baseball League team without a town this summer, will call Peters Creek’s Loretta French Park home for the 2012 season.
Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce president Pete Mulcahy made the announcement at the group’s luncheon on Wednesday, Aug. 31 at the Bear Mountain Grill in Eagle River.
“Athletes in Action are relocating to our hometown,” Mulcahy said.
The news was greeted with loud applause from the large audience, which had gathered at the Eagle River restaurant to hear a speech by Sen. Mark Begich.
Athletes in Action general manager Chris Beck confirmed the news by phone from the team’s headquarters in Ohio.
Athletes in Action is a national faith-based organization that fields amateur baseball teams in New York, Ohio, Alaska and Nicaragua.
Mulcahy said plans are in the works to come up with a new nickname for the Fire, and chamber special events director Merry Braham said she’s already working on putting together a name-the-team contest.
Though surprising, the news was not entirely unexpected. Athletes in Action was previously based in Fairbanks, but left the Golden Heart City after the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks pulled out of the league and played an independent schedule.
With their Fairbanks connection severed, the Fire based themselves out of Anchorage in 2011, and openly discussed the possibility of either finding a new Alaska home or moving the team Outside.
AIA and the Anchorage Glacier Pilots played an exhibition game at Loretta French in July. At the time, Beck said one of the only hurdles to relocation was getting minor improvements made at the municipal park, which is normally used for American Legion baseball games.
It was unclear immediately what improvements have been agreed upon, but Mulcahy credited Rep. Bill Stoltze (R-Chugiak/Mat-Su) and Anchorage Parks and Recreation Director John Rodda with working behind the scenes to make sure the facility will be up to ABL standards when play starts in June.
“Those two really, really made this happen,” Mulcahy said.
Rodda was out of the office Wednsday and unavailable for comment.
In July, Beck said he was hopeful about the prospect of moving to Chugiak-Eagle River full time.
“I think it would be a great thing to have a home field and a home community,” Beck said.
The ABL currently includes the Fire, along with the Anchorage Bucs, Anchorage Glacier Pilots, Peninsula Oilers and Mat-Su Miners.
Mulcahy said Chugiak-Eagle River will be anxious to prove it’s every bit the ABL town as Kenai, Anchorage or Palmer.
“The only difference is we’ll kick their butts,” Mulcahy said.
Further details about the move will be available in the Sept. 8 edition of the Chugiak-Eagle River Star.