SIDEWINDERS ’08 SEASON TO HAVE NEW OWNERS
The Tucson Sidewinders franchise will turn over its assets to SK Baseball this fall, according to Jay S. Zucker, President/CEO for Tucson Baseball, LLC.
“We had a goal to develop a professional and successful sports organization,” says Zucker, “We struggled, yet survived. We had a dream to win a PLC League Championship. That was earned -and more- the 2006 Triple A Championship.”
During the initial five seasons, the franchise lost over $1,000,000 in operating costs. In the sixth season, the Zucker’s reduced their holdings to local investor Primo Ventures to help service their debt.
Over the past eight seasons, the attendance never significantly increased. Even last season’s Triple A Championship attendance remained flat. The Minor League Baseball Play-offs, hosted in Tucson, merely covered the extensive cost of game’s operation and travel.
The fan-base was never large enough to cover the mounting expenses for the team’s travel, insurance and staff. Even during their best seasons, the business never was able to “break even.” Zucker regularly used his personal savings and never took a salary.
Despite this, the Tucson Sidewinders had assisted over 200 Tucson non-profit organizations, tens of thousands of local children and helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the community. Sidewinders General Manager Rick Parr, who has served over 30 years as a baseball executive, helped deliver much of the positive growth for the Tucson Baseball organization.
Tucson Baseball, LLC, acquired the Tucson Sidewinders franchise in 1999, guided by its principals Jay and Melinda Zucker.
In 2007, father-son team Jerry and Stuart Katzoff entered in negotiations to pay down Tucson Baseball’s debt in exchange for Zucker equity.
The Katzoffs then joined forces with Herb Simon, a global mall developer and co-owner of the Indiana Pacers. They created SK Baseball.
SK Baseball proposed to acquire the entire team’s assets for debt plus $11.5 million dollars. The transaction will be completed this fall. Zucker will be retained as a consultant for the 2008 season.
Jerry Katzoff owns and operates the upscale Italian restaurant organization, Il Mulino, with nine locations throughout the United States and one in Tokyo. Stuart Katzoff, operating partner for SK Baseball, owns Manhattan Capitol in New York.
Zucker will be retained as a consultant for the 2008 season and plans to continue the growth and progress Tucson Baseball has created over the last eight seasons.
Zucker, a State Baseball Commissioner with over 25 years’ experience in media, sports and events promotion, plans to continue his quest of Tucson-based pro baseball.
Zucker is also working with the State Baseball Commission to host exhibition games with Monterrey, Mexico’s Sultans prior to Spring Training, and hopefully, to make Tucson their home for Spring Training. This team is Mexico’s Major League Baseball equivalent. The current Sultans roster includes former Arizona Diamondback players Erubio Durazo and Karin Garcia.
Tucson Baseball LLC has retained the rights to the Tucson Toros.
Tucson, AZ 6/11/07
Tucson Entertainment Magazine