Thursday, February 27, 2003

Ky. team to play, but in Ohio

Will return to Florence in '04

By Gina Holt
Enquirer contributor

FLORENCE - Northern Kentucky Professional Baseball is back in the game.

But the group's baseball team won't be playing in Florence this year. Although the Frontier League team will play under the Florence name, it will play in Hamilton.

Last week, Gary Enzweiler, member of Northern Kentucky Professional Baseball, wasn't sure if NKPB would even have a team this year. The future was up in the air after the organization announced that the $5.5 million stadium in Florence would not be completed in time for the team to play in June and because of tax liabilities associated with the Johnstown Johnnies, the franchise being acquired to play in Florence.

"They intend to play the 2003 season in the city of Hamilton because there is no place to play here," said Florence Mayor Diane Whalen. "The (Tom Gill Chevrolet) stadium is going to be built when the weather breaks and will be complete in time for the 2004 season."

The proposed 4,000-seat stadium located on the property of the former Fantasy Frontier at U.S. 42 and Interstate 75 was expected to open in June but construction was delayed by the weather. The organization began looking for a stadium, including Georgetown College and Thomas More College.

Whalen said Thomas More couldn't be used because its stadium does not have lights and the city of Crestview Hills will not permit lighting to be added. Georgetown College may possibly be used for a few day games.

The team will play at Foundation Park in downtown Hamilton. Lighting and more seating have to be added to the 300-seat stadium.

As a result, NKPB has agreed to let Hamilton purchase its own team, which is expected to play in 2005.

"I don't think we'll draw from the same audience," Whalen said. "What they hope and expect to happen is they'll create a tremendous cross-town rivalry."

NKPB has tentatively scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. March 6 at the Florence Government Center.

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