The Triple-A baseball franchise in Lackawanna County has been called the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees for five seasons, but while the Yankees are on the road this season, they will be called the Empire State Yankees.
The Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees played the Buffalo Bison back in September. It would be the last game for the Yankees at their home stadium, PNC Field, until further notice.
The Yankees have announced that while they are away from their hometown stadium, they are also shaking their hometown name.
This season, the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees will be called the Empire State Yankees. Team officials said it’s a marketing move so they can sell merchandise with the new logo as the team travels around New York state.
In the meantime, Lackawanna County commissioners are looking to change the deal with the Yankees organization.
“Right now were in negotiations with the New York Yankees and Mandalay on whether or not we’re going to have baseball in the future of Lackawanna County,” said Commissioner Jim Wansacz.
He added negotiations are going well, but the news of the name change came as a surprise to the county.
The name change is also came out of left field for the Lackawanna County Stadium Authority Board.
Board chairman James Timlin said they were never told of the plans and only learned about when the announcement was made.
“We the stadium authority board own the franchise. Anything that is done with the franchise we should know about, we should vote on it, if there’s going to be a name change” said Timlin.
Timlin is also concerned about the renovation work at the stadium, since millions of tax dollars were committed to the project.
“We are putting a lot of money, a lot of time into this. We would just like to know why we weren’t informed.”
It came as a surprise for baseball fans too. Some fear it’s a sign that the team won’t be back.
“I think it does good things for the area, in that it gives us some name recognition besides something “The Office” related. I think that, I’m not sure what the attendance has been at the games, but I think the move can be bad economically for the area,” said Bradley Sinkaus of Scranton.
Lackawanna County’s been home to a Triple-A baseball team since 1989, the Yankees for the last five seasons.
County commissioners said the deadline for negotiations is April 1. Then, for the Yankees to come back renovations would have to be finished in only a year’s time, before opening day in 2013.
“I don’t understand, just like your renovating your house, you move over to another house or apartment you rent, you don’t change your name do you? That’s how I feel about that, why change the name?” said Yankee fan Jack Mancak of Jessup.
Lackawanna County Commissioner Jim Wansacz said if the Yankees come back, the name could change again. He wants the community to be a part of choosing a new nickname, instead of the Yankees, for the baseball team.