Skylands Park

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Coordinates: 41°7′33.3″N 74°42′36.44″W / 41.125917°N 74.7101222°W / 41.125917; -74.7101222

Skylands Park
SkylandsPark.jpg
Location 94 Championship Place
Augusta, NJ 07822
Built 1994
Opened 1994
Owner Al Dorso
Operator Skylands Stadium LLC.
Surface Natural Grass
Capacity 4,200
Field size Left Field: 330 ft
Center Field: 392 ft
Right Field: 330 ft
Tenants
Sussex Skyhawks (Can-Am League) (2006-2010)
Newark Bears (Atlantic League)
(1999)
New Jersey Cardinals (NY-Penn League) (1994-2005)
New Jersey Stags (2010)
Sussex County C.C. Skylanders (SCCC)

CenturyLink Field at Skylands Park (or simply Skylands Park) is a professional minor-league baseball stadium located in the Augusta section of Frankford Township in Sussex County, New Jersey. It is located at the intersection of U.S. Route 206, New Jersey Route 15, and County Road 565 that is known as "Ross's Corner." The ballpark is located adjacent to the Sussex County Fairgrounds where the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show (officially New Jersey's State Fair) is held annually in the first weeks of August.

Skylands Park opened in 1994 and was built for the New Jersey Cardinals, the New York-Penn League affiliate for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals called the park home until 2005, after which the team was sold and moved. The Cardinals were replaced by the Sussex Skyhawks, an independent minor league team that began play in 2006 and folded after the 2010 season. Skylands Park also served as the home field for several other sports organizations. As of July 2014, no professional baseball team currently uses Skylands Park.

In May 2010, telecommunications company CenturyLink bought naming rights to Skylands Park. There is an official seating capacity of 4,200.

In October 2013, Skylands Park was sold by recent owner Mark Roscioli, Jr. to a group of investors that included the organizer of the State Fair Meadowlands, Al Dorso.[1] The new owners hope to resume baseball operations in 2015.

History[edit]

Home of the New Jersey Cardinals (1993-2005)[edit]

Ground was broken in the fall of 1993 for a new minor league ballpark. The Hamilton Redbirds, the Cardinals' New York-Penn League affiliate, were in a transition to move out of their home in Hamilton, Ontario, to Augusta, New Jersey, and had temporarily spent the 1993 season in Glens Falls, New York, as the Glens Falls Redbirds. As part of the move, the team changed its name to the Cardinals. The team's new home stadium would be privately owned and financed, a rarity in professional sports circles.

The park is designed to look a little bit like a farm complex from the outside. Augusta has long been the home of dairy farms, and the Cardinals wanted to make their stadium blend in.

The winter of 1993-94 brought the worst weather in several years to North Jersey, causing construction cost overruns. The owners of Skylands Park were forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but the new ballpark managed to open on time that June and the Cardinals moved in.[2] The stadium's luxury boxes and other amenities were not completed until the following year.

The Cardinals called Skylands Park home from 1994 to 2005, winning a NYPL title in their first season. After the 2005 season the team was sold to a new ownership group based in University Park, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University, and were relocated there to become known as the State College Spikes; it is currently a Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate.

Home of the Sussex Skyhawks (2006-2010)[edit]

On January 10, 2006, it was announced that Skylands Park would be the home to the newly named professional baseball team called the Sussex Skyhawks of the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball. On May 29, 2006, the Skyhawks played their first regular season game at Skylands Park, dropping an 18-11 decision to the North Shore Spirit. The Skyhawks won a Can-Am League championship in 2008, the ballpark's second title. In early January 2011, it was announced that the Sussex Skyhawks would be disbanding.[3]

Other teams[edit]

The Sussex County Community College (SCCC) baseball team, known as the Skylanders, plays its home games at Skylands Park. The Skylanders took part in the first-ever event at the ballpark, a doubleheader played on April 17, 1994.[4]

In 1998, Skylands Park was designated the home field for the New Jersey Diamonds of the Ladies Professional Baseball League, a league for women that began play the previous year. However, the Diamonds played only eight home games before the league folded.[5]

In the summer of 1999, Skylands Park hosted several home games for the Newark Bears, a minor league team affiliated with the Atlantic League, as they awaited the completion of Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark.

Skylands Park also hosted the Sussex County Colonels of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, a collegiate summer baseball league, from 1995-97.

The New Jersey Stags of the semi-pro Big North East Football Federation, played their inaugural 2010 season at the ballpark.[3] The Stags moved to Macerino Stadium at Vernon Township High School for the 2011 season before folding.

No professional team played at Skylands Park since 2010. The owners, Millennium Sports Management, put the stadium up for sale for $1.99 million, but no buyer was found at that price.[6] In March 2013, investor Mark Roscioli of 17 Mile LLC in Ardmore, Pennsylvania acquired the stadium for $950,000.[7] Negotiations were ongoing to determine how to bring baseball back to the site with either a new or existing pro league. Roscioli did not have prior experience running a ballpark.[8] There was interest in a new ACBL franchise or a team in a revived version of the Northern League. In October, Roscioli sold the park to a group of investors led by Al Dorso, Jr. for $850,000. The new owners hope to start baseball operations in 2015.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Moszczynski, Joe (10 October 2013). "Skylands Park gets new owners with hopes of baseball returning in 2015". New Jersey Star-Ledger. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "BASEBALL; Field of Dreams Turns Into Nightmare in New Jersey". New York Times. 1994-08-23. Retrieved 2012-07-30. 
  3. ^ a b "New Jersey Herald - Sussex County newspaper for news, sports, schools". njherald.com. Retrieved 2011-01-13. 
  4. ^ "Looking back at 20 years of Skylands Park history". New Jersey Herald. January 15, 2011. Retrieved July 23, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Millennium Sports Management, Inc. Announces Cancellation of Ladies Professional Baseball Games at Skylands Park". thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  6. ^ "Dreams unfulfilled: Frankford's Skylands Park to remain vacant this summer". The Star-Ledger. 2012-03-11. Retrieved 2012-07-30. 
  7. ^ "Skylands Park sold; baseball still a possibility". Ballpark Digest. 2013-03-17. Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  8. ^ Moszczynski, Joe (7 April 2013). "With deal closed, new Skylands Park owner exploring all possibilities". New Jersey Star-Ledger. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 

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