At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Donald C. Beaver, Owner and CEO of the New Orleans Zephyrs, announced that a company located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island has purchased a 50% interest in the New Orleans Zephyrs franchise.
Yes2No, LLC is managed and controlled by General Partner Lou Schwechheimer, a longtime Triple-A Baseball owner and executive. Beaver also announced that Schwechheimer's group would take over the day-to-day management of the Zephyrs, effective December 1, 2015.
Schwechheimer was the longtime minority owner and CEO of the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox, leading the team for more than 30 years as General Manager and Chief Operating Officer.
"Our goal is to make the New Orleans Zephyrs one of the top franchises in all of Minor League Baseball," Schwechheimer said. "With the great South Louisiana fans, the love of sports here, and our hard work, we have every reason to believe that we will succeed."
Schwechheimer was an integral part of the ownership group that expanded historic McCoy Stadium to 10,000 seats in 1999 and drew over 17 million fans, highlighted by a Minor League-leading 688,000 in 2005.
The PawSox have been recognized with virtually every national team and individual award in Minor League Baseball, including The John H. Johnson President's Trophy, presented annually to the club best exemplifying the standards of a complete baseball franchise; The Baseball America Bob Freitas Award, presented annually to the Triple-A organization which demonstrates long-standing excellence of operations in the ballpark and front office; and the John Henry Moss Award for Community Service, presented to a Minor League club for their ongoing commitment to charitable service and their support and leadership within the community and the baseball industry.
Don Beaver was part of a group of largely local investors who bought the team in 1995. That group included Walter Leger, Jr., and other local investors. Leger currently serves as Vice President and General Counsel of the team. Beaver obtained a controlling interest in the team in 2001 and became sole owner in 2002. Mr. Beaver owns the Triple-A Charlotte Knights of Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Hickory Crawdads of Hickory, North Carolina. He also owns an interest in and serves on the Board of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Beaver welcomed the new investment group to Zephyrs ownership, and stated that he "looks forward to working with them to enhance the baseball experience for Jefferson Parish, New Orleans, and all of Southeast Louisiana. Mr. Schwechheimer is one of the top executives in all of Minor League Baseball, and we look forward to him taking over the management and working with the current staff, including Mike Schline, who will continue with the Zephyrs."
New Orleans attorney and civic leader, Walter Leger, Jr., was the Zephyrs' public address announcer in the team's inaugural season in 1993. He later became a part of the original local ownership group that purchased the team in 1995. Leger has previously served as team President and currently serves as Vice President and General Counsel. Leger has also served as Chairman of the New Orleans Regional Chamber of Commerce and Vice - Chairman of the Louisiana Recovery Authority after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"The Zephyrs have been successful in bringing championship baseball to the New Orleans region and the state of Louisiana," Leger said. "Don Beaver is to be applauded for partnering with such outstanding and successful professional baseball promoters and managers. I am sure the New Orleans community will welcome Lou Schwechheimer with open arms as we continue to make this area one of the great sports venues in the United States."
The Zephyrs won the Triple-A World Series Championship in 1998 and the Pacific Coast League Championship in 1998 and 2001. Since arriving in New Orleans in 1993, the Zephyrs have been affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, New York Mets, and now are the Triple-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins.
"We welcome Lou to New Orleans baseball, where he will find some of the best and most loyal fans in all of baseball," Beaver said. "New Orleans baseball has had a long tradition in both Double-A and Triple-A and has provided training for many major league players."
"I want to thank all the local media, and all others in the Jefferson Parish and the entire New Orleans area for their support over the past 18 years that I have been involved in team ownership," Beaver continued. "Also, I want to especially thank the L.S.E.D., the State agency that controls the Zephyrs' stadium, for their help in working out a long-term lease that will ensure Zephyrs baseball in New Orleans for many years to come."