BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- After five years as owner of the Bowling Green Hot Rods, Art Solomon is selling the successful Class A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays to another experienced Minor League baseball team ownership group.
Manhattan Capital Sports Acquisition, headed by Stuart Katzoff, has officially taken over ownership of the Class A Bowling Green Hot Rods, the club announced Tuesday.
"We and our partners are thrilled about this great opportunity to continue in the revitalization of downtown Bowling Green by improving on the success of the Hot Rods," Katzoff said. "We are also excited that one of our partners is Don Dizney, who has ties to the Bowling Green and Warren County area."
The Hot Rods' new ownership group will assume the 15 years remaining on the 20-year lease with Bowling Green Ballpark. The team will remain in the Midwest League and will continue to be affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays.
"This is an announcement we make with extremely mixed feelings and a heavy heart," Solomon said. "The people in this region have been so welcoming to us since we arrived in the fall of 2008, and without them we would not be where we are today. Stuart Katzoff is an outstanding, successful owner, and I have no doubt that this new era for the Hot Rods will mean great things for downtown Bowling Green and the surrounding region."
Stuart, along with Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon and his father Jerry Katzoff also own the Triple-A Reno Aces in the Pacific Coast League. According to Forbes.com, the Reno Aces tie for No. 13 on the list of Minor League Baseball's Most Valuable Teams. As founder and president of the private investment group, Manhattan Capital, LLC, Stuart Katzoff has also been instrumental in developing a multi-million dollar entertainment district near the Aces' ballpark. The Aces have welcomed over two million fans since the club's inception in 2009. The Katzoffs also own 14 Il Mulino restaurants, one of which will be opening soon in Nashville.
"We are excited to welcome the Katzoffs as the new owners of the Hot Rods," Warren County Judge Executive Mike Buchanan said. "The experience that they bring to our franchise and the commitment that they have already shown in getting to know our community makes it evident that they will be a great partner."
Doug Gorman, chair of the Warren County Downtown Economic Development Authority, is also pleased with the new deal and expresses the gratitude of many individuals toward Solomon for helping the ballpark become a reality and committing the team to Bowling Green in 2008.
"Art has just been awesome for this community," said Gorman. "Without his leadership and guidance, we would not have had such a successful Minor League baseball franchise. We certainly thank him for service and friendship to Warren County officials, residents and baseball fans alike."
Since 2009, the inaugural season of Hot Rods baseball in South Central Kentucky, the franchise has welcomed over one million fans to Bowling Green Ballpark, an integral part in the redevelopment of historic downtown Bowling Green. In addition, Bowling Green Ballpark and the Hot Rods have become a key component in local community activities, attending over 150 community events while hosting over 20 additional community events each year.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods have enjoyed success both on and off the field in the team's first five seasons. Six former Hot Rods players have made their Major League debuts, including pitcher Matt Moore, who is regarded as one of the top young arms in the American League. Competing in the 16-team Midwest League, the Hot Rods are just one of three MWL teams to have made the postseason three straight years.