By Briana Vannozzi
Fans came to buy the last of their Riversharks memorabilia. After 15-years playing on Camden’s waterfront, the Atlantic League baseball team has had it’s last at-bat.
“My youngest is 22 now and I remember when he was 10 or 12 coming here, so its hard,” said Bill Walton.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to negotiate a long term lease, so we do have to be out by the end of next week,” said general manager Lindsay Rosenberg.
With the team mired in litigation and missing rent payments, the county stepped in to purchase the stadium for $3.5 million in April, but reports of financial mismanagement within the team couldn’t be sorted out in time to save the club.
“The Freeholder board, of course, wants to make sure the taxpayer is going to be compensated and that we have a deal worked out with whoever that party is that’s going to be sustainable for the future moving forward,” said Camden County spokesman Dan Keashen.
With big billion-dollar waterfront plans on the horizon, Keashen says they’re negotiating with multiple parties, a few being baseball teams, one a major league affiliate.
“It’s multiple parties, I can’t tell you the exact number, but we have more than one offer and we’ve received a lot of interest actually since the announcement was made about the future waterfront development,” Keashen said.
Rumors that the Sharks might move to Connecticut to form a newly announced team there were confirmed as just rumors today.
“Unfortunately, about 150 people will lose their jobs. Full-time is about 20, and then part-time and seasonal during the season which is mostly city of Camden residents, so hopefully the county can get another team in here, or something just for the job purpose,” Rosenberg said.
“Morale is a little low right now, but it is the business so these things do happen,” said clubhouse manager Nick Barba.
“For what it cost to go to a Phillies game, you could take your whole family here and still leave with money in your pocket. It was awesome. It was fun,” said Amy Pacione.
Fans say even if the team is replaced, it’ll be tough to beat more than a decade’s worth of memories.
“My 20-year-old son has been celebrating his birthday here. We started probably when he was about seven, and he was very sad down at the naval academy when he found at that they were closing,” said Michelle McGuigan “so we came over to pick him up a jersey and a ball and cheer him up a little bit.”
“For what it cost to go to a Phillies game your could take your whole family here and still leave and have money in your pocket. It was awesome. It was fun,” said Amy Pacione.
“This is a great place to come and watch a game. It’s a great environment and I’ll miss it,” said Walton.
So, what’s left of the Camden Riversharks remains only in these hats, t-shirts and other souvenirs. The employees will scramble for new jobs, the athletes new teams, so they can try to stay in the game.