The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees missed the International League's Sept. 20 deadline of finding a temporary new home for the upcoming season and remain on the hunt as their ballpark in Moosic, Pa., is set to undergo extensive $40 million renovations.
An effort by the New York Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman to move to club to Newark, N.J., this week was thwarted by the Mets, who share territorial rights to the area and blocked Cashman's repeated requests.
The Triple-A Yanks had been rumored to move into a number of potential homes in the area, from nearby Lehigh Valley in Allentown, Pa., to Staten Island, the Yankees' short-season affiliate based a few miles south of Yankee Stadium.
International League president Randy Mobley said he still expects a resolution to be worked out soon.
"It's all still in the works, the league directors put a time frame in place that should get this taken care of in a timely manner," said Mobley. "That's where we are right now. It's on-going, but we expect a resolution sooner rather than later."
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's longtime home in Pennsylvania, PNC Field, will be closed in 2012 -- the renovation will be partly funded by $25 million in state grants along with money from the sale of the club to the Yankees and Mandalay Baseball. The team is currently owned by the Lackawanna County Multi-Purpose Stadium Authority; the sale of the team is believed to be for $14.6 million and would extend the Yankees' lease for another 30 years.
"The only thing that is ruled out that was widely reported last week is Newark," Mobley said. "Everything else is still on the table."
Newark, which houses a struggling independent league club, looked to be a viable option until the Mets denied the Yankees' request.
"I went there, I reviewed the place, a request was made," Cashman told MLB.com. "They have territorial rights that they have a right to invoke. There's nothing more to it."
The Bombers had a Minor League team in Newark from 1932 to 1949, when the Newark Bears boasted young Yankees talents including Yogi Berra. Politicians from the area have expressed their frustration and disappointment in the Mets' decision.
"Getting 6,000 people in there a night would have been huge," Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo told NJ.com, which reported the local politician had worked for over a month to get the Yankees settled into Eagles & Bears Riverfront Stadium. He helped secure an agreement with Cashman.
"It could make a huge impact, I'm not giving up hope yet," Newark Mayor Cory Booker told the website. "It could create a lot of enthusiasm, it could create a lot of economic impact."
Mobley said the discussions with Newark hadn't reached a point where the league was asked to get involved, though.
"It hadn't gotten that far, for the league to consider or take action," he said. "So it didn't get to that point."
Booker has been at the wheel in fighting crime and improving education as Newark, New Jersey's largest city, makes a comeback. The city, a major transit hub for the metro area thanks to its large airport, also hosts the NHL's New Jersey Devils, the NBA's New Jersey Nets and the WNBA's New York Liberty. The area is easily accessible to area residents by train and PATH Train. The Mets, according to NJ.com, denied the Yankees' requests four separate times in fear the club would hurt attendance at Citi Field next year.
"We'll find somewhere for us, rather soon, to play for Triple-A," Cashman said. "That's our responsibility."
Other possible scenarios have included the Yankees playing their home games on a rotating basis between Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse. The nearby Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Phillies' top affiliate, has also been mentioned due to its proximity to Scranton and its hearty fan base.
Mobley acknowledged those options are still potential solutions, but wouldn't comment on any leading candidates. He said there's "no hard deadline" for the team to find a new home.
Some fans have called for the Triple-A club to share Yankee Stadium, potentially providing city residents with a less expensive ticket inside the mammoth $1.5 billion Bronx facility. Staten Island would be vacant until the New York-Penn League starts up in late June, but would again be subject to territorial approval from the Mets.
"That would require approvals there as well," Mobley said. "We're just waiting on a proposal to see what can happen."