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Tim Purpura's Opening Session speech

MiLB Executive Vice President/COO recaps the past year
December 7, 2009
INDIANAPOLIS -- Welcome to Indianapolis and the 108th Winter Meetings. I am sure we are all excited to be back together with our friends and colleagues to discuss the great game of baseball.

As we are all aware, 2009 was a tumultuous year in our country, as well as our game. The effects of the financial crisis have affected every sector of our society, including Minor League Baseball. But unlike other industries, I believe we should be proud that we have remained committed to our core values of quality family entertainment, affordable pricing and excellent value for our product. It is this dedication to core values that have helped us to make it through these unsettling times in a very positive way, and it is a credit to each of you that we have been able to adjust quickly with creative ticket and concession programs among others, that are catered to our diverse market places and which are responsive to the financial condition facing our fans.

We have also had a busy year in St. Petersburg. Most notably, after over 30 years in our historic, yet well worn, headquarters at Al Lang Field in downtown St. Pete, we moved in July to a state of the art campus of 3 buildings located some 8 miles north of downtown St. Pete. We now have an asset that we believe will appreciate in value over time, that we purchased at a very reasonable price in a down market, and most importantly we have a home where we can be more efficient and responsive to our member clubs. The new building has also greatly improved our staff morale and we are very proud of the complex and we appreciate the clubs' commitment to funding this project and we welcome you anytime to come and visit the new home of Minor League Baseball.

Other notable projects under way in our organization include the development of Historic Dodgertown and the Durham Athletic Park projects, which will provide laboratory settings for Minor League Baseball to test and develop pilot programs for our industry. Through these pilot programs, we hope to develop turnkey programs for the membership that provide valuable inventory at the club level.

The Grand Re-Opening of the Durham Athletic Park occurred in August, and under the leadership of Jill Rusinko, Minor League Baseball has taken an important role in preserving a historic minor league ballpark, and we have now created an asset that we are currently using for events such as the recent, and very successful, Sport Turf Managers Clinic, the upcoming PBUC Umpiring clinic as well as various community events which are a combination of athletic and non-athletic events, and in the Spring we will welcome North Carolina Central State University, a Historically Black College and University as the anchor tenant. The University will use the DAP as the home field for their varsity baseball team's games. This is significant for the University as their baseball team has never had a home field. We are very proud that we can provide a quality facility, in a historic setting that can be of great social and recreational benefit to the Durham area and become a teaching and learning lab for future minor league executives, sports turf managers and even umpires.

Another significant achievement this year was Minor League Baseball's entering into an agreement to take over the operation of Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla. Dodgertown is truly one of the iconic sports facilities in America and has tremendous historical significance in sports. But more importantly, it has tremendous social significance as it was the place where the integration of baseball began, as the site where Jackie Robinson trained during his amazing career in Major League Baseball.

Minor League Baseball is embarking on a journey that will preserve the history of Dodgertown, while at the same time re-energizing the facility as a premier sports academy for professional and amateur athletes in baseball and other sports.

We are also in the preliminary stages of designing an amateur tournament program that can be operated at your ballparks that will serve as a nationwide competition that will culminate in a final tournament in Dodgertown.

Our efforts in Vero are led by former 30-year Dodger employee Craig Callan, who is now VP of Dodgertown, and Jeff Biddle who has spent over 20 years in the sports tournament and facility marketing area, who is now our Director of Athletics and Marketing. Craig and Jeff will be manning a booth at the Trade Show and I encourage you to stop by and hear about all of the great opportunities at Historic Dodgertown.

And finally, our relationship with our partner, Major League Baseball continues to grow in many meaningful ways. We have spent this year getting acquainted with a newly promoted member of the MLB staff, Mr. Fred Seymour who took over the role of Manager of Minor League Operations. Fred is a veteran baseball executive who has worked in MLB umpiring, player development with several Major League teams as well as a stint as General Manager of the Sarasota Red Sox. Fred has been great to work with and we look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with Major League Baseball.

In closing, I want to wish that each of you have highly successful meetings this week, as well as wonderful holiday season with your families.

Thank you and have a great time here in Indianapolis!