Sinsheimer Stadium in SLO was 100 percent full in the past during June/July, with Babe Ruth getting "priority" choice of playing time, then the Blues scheduling their season (with Babe Ruth making some concessions to accommodate their schedule), then the Central Coast Men's Adult Baseball League picking up the remaining usable space.
"Usable" means weeknights and weekends. Babe Ruth wants parents to watch games, the Blues depend on an audience who can attend, and the Men's league is mostly working adults with daytime jobs.
Enter the Rattlers, who want a piece of the pie. The city then declared that there's plenty of space, so they need to share as the stadium is available to everyone, even if they can't all play at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Sounds good. Which group wants to play between 2 and 5 a.m. in the morning? (No lights then, due to neighbors and curfew but hey, there IS space!)
Obviously, the city created a nightmare that has no solution under the existing rules, so it was up to the teams to "work it out" or have a lottery imposed by the city. And HEY! That's an even BETTER idea! Now the Rattlers could take their three-game series with San Diego (long road trip up here), pick the first day, have the Blues pick the second day, have the Men's league take the third day, and then try to explain to the opponent, "Welllll ... we THOUGHT we could schedule games."
According to the "plan," the teams could then swap their choices around to make it work. Problem with that? There just isn't enough space to accommodate the users!
The Blues, over years of trying, worked out their economic plan that requires them playing at home most weekends, then road trips with Wednesday home games interspersed to keep the local interest up.
In June, Babe Ruth schedules a senior program that occupies most of the remaining weeknights and shares most Saturdays with the Blues. The Men's league usually shares Sundays with the Blues and gets an occasional weeknight not used by the others.
The Rattlers obviously need approximately the same availability as the Blues to make a go of it, but where do they get the "available space" the city professes to exist? The Men's league agreed to forego June dates until everyone else got what they wanted, but the Blues certainly weren't willing to cut their own throat for the benefit of a competitor and give up their schedule, and Babe Ruth wants the stadium experience for their players and won't walk away unless the city takes it away from them (possible, but unlikely).
Compounding the issue is that the Rattlers came in with a quite small schedule request (nine games in June), but does anyone believe they won't want as many games (or more) as the Blues have in future years? Where does THAT space come from, even if some kind of accommodation got worked out this year (and NOBODY was happy with the end results)?
This situation has done tremendous harm to both the Blues and Rattlers organizations. Home and away schedules are usually worked out long before now, but how could the teams work out schedules when they didn't know until now what days they actually had? At this point, many possible opponents have committed to games with other teams and both the Blues and Rattlers are going to have difficulty putting a schedule together.
Imagine the problems of sponsors being promised an "unknown" amount of exposure. Or how about early season ticket sales? "How many games and what dates? What? You don't KNOW?" And recruitment will suffer, too. Many of their players come from colleges from out of area out of state. How many potentials gave up due to unknowns and signed with other programs?
Blame the Blues? Hard to pick on somebody doing their best to keep as much of what they can of what has been built over many years.
Blame the Rattlers? How, when the city invited them in with promises of "equal access?"
Blame the city? The buck stops there. Want to play at Damon-Garcia? Nope fully utilized and "impacted." Want to form a softball league and use city facilities at Santa Rosa Park or Dairy Creek? Nope fully used and "impacted." Want to start another semipro baseball team or two and play at Sinsheimer in June/July? Sure, WHY NOT!? Certainly the Blues and/or the Rattlers could cut back to each getting about a quarter of what the Blues started with and a fraction of what is needed to be a viable entity!
Also mentioned (since this obviously cannot work), why not a bid next year with the winner getting the stadium and the loser movin' on? Now that sounds like a GREAT idea, and a dandy way to help the city budget!
Then, lets do the same to all those farmers and concessionaires at Farmers' Market. "Hey, LOTS of space available, but you'll have to share with everyone else who would like to set up there, or give up part of what you already have. Plus there are all kinds of rules and regulations, so no "new" spaces can be created and you'll have to work with what is already being utilized. And if you can't settle it among yourselves, we'll put all the spaces up for bid!" YEAH!
Dan Ainsworth is the president of the Central Coast Men's Adult Baseball League. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.