Scrappers Sign to Play Ball for Another 15 Seasons
NILES, Ohio – Fans who have enjoyed watching the Mahoning Valley Scrappers over the last 20 years can look forward to at least another 15 seasons of baseball at Eastwood Field.
“Over the years, we’ve really grown the business and made it a great destination point and focal point of people’s summers in the Mahoning Valley,” Jordan Taylor, vice president of HWS Baseball said in announcing the team has signed a lease with The Cafaro Co. through 2033.
“It’s really a big deal,” Taylor said during a press event at Cafaro Co. headquarters Thursday. “It comes with a true partnership with the Cafaro family and The Cafaro Co.”
HWS Group’s Baseball division owns the Scrappers organization and minor league clubs in Dayton; Modesto, Calif; and Mobile, Ala.
This year, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers celebrates its 20th season as a Class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, a venture that Taylor credits to the Cafaro family and their vision to bring professional baseball to the region.
Taylor also announced that the team has extended its contract with the Indians, making it one of 160 markets across the country that play host to a minor-league baseball team that is affiliated with a major league franchise.
Since the affiliate’s first season in 1999, more than 90 former Scrappers have reached the major leagues, Taylor said, including C.C. Sabathia, Victor Martinez and Francisco Lindor.
A short video celebrating the Scrappers’ 20th anniversary will be aired at the park during the season, with comments from Indians players Josh Tomlin, Jose Ramirez and Tyler Naquin, who reminisce about their Class A days in Niles.
Attendance increased by nearly 15% during the 2017 season, one of the largest increases of any minor league team in the country, Taylor said. “Our hope is to increase that and push those numbers even higher,” he remarked.
Along with a new 15-year commitment, Taylor said the team would be making new investments and enhancements to the operations at Eastwood Field.
Among the improvements are upgrades to the field’s broadcast and video booth, a LED high quality video display four times the size of the current screen, a new sound system, enhancements to the control room, and a more efficient concession operations, including the addition of two portable concession stands.
Future investments are targeted for field enhancements, and expansion of clubhouse, suite level and general seating, Taylor noted.
Scrappers games will also be streamed live via MiLB TV starting this season, he said.
Taylor said the improvements would improve non-baseball events at the park. In 2017, for example, Eastwood Field hosted 200 events — 38 of which were Scrappers games, he emphasized.
The Cafaro Co. – then under the direction of the late William J. Cafaro and retired president Anthony Cafaro Sr. – developed what was then Cafaro Field in 1998-1999 on land near the Eastwood Mall complex.
Anthony Cafaro Jr., today co-president of The Cafaro Co., said the company had no real experience with professional sports franchises.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” Cafaro said. “We learned a lot over the years and the relationship really has flourished,” he said. Business sponsorships, he added, are integral to the success of the team, and the overwhelming support of the community.
“I think the community overall is what really makes this possible,” Cafaro said. “We’re proud that this has not been just a Niles effort, a Youngstown or Warren effort – it’s the entire Mahoning Valley. That’s what’s made this successful.”
Pictured at top: Anthony Cafaro Jr. and Jordan Taylor announce Scrappers will play at Eastwood Field for the next 15 years.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.