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Owner to sell rights to Steamers CPL team

A team will play in Edenton in 2020

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The owner of the Edenton Steamers confirmed this week he's in the process of selling the Coastal Plains League franchise. The Steamers won three Petitt Cup championships as a member of the Coastal Plain League, the most recent in 2015.

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By Malcolm Shields and Nicole Bowman-Layton
Adams Publishing Group

Thursday, March 21, 2019

EDENTON — The 2019 season is slated to be the last for Coastal Plain League baseball in Edenton.

Edenton Steamers owner Frank Burke confirmed Wednesday that he’s in the process of selling the Edenton Steamers CPL franchise that he bought in 2016.

According to multiple sources, a buyer plans to purchase the Edenton CPL franchise and move it from northeastern North Carolina.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Burke said the Coastal Plain League has outgrown the Edenton market and that having a CPL team in Edenton is no longer financially feasible. He noted that Edenton is one of the smaller markets in the CPL.

Though the CPL team will be leaving, there will still be Steamers baseball in Edenton in 2020.

Edenton Steamers general manager Tyler Russell confirmed that a summer college baseball wood bat team will be playing its home games in Edenton next summer.

According to Billy Bass, the nonprofit Edenton-Chowan Foundation will own the new baseball club and a separate board will operate the team. Bass will serve as the foundation’s president.

Burke confirmed that the Edenton Steamers name, logo and intellectual property will remain with the new team in Edenton.

According to Russell, once the team’s sale is completed, the Edenton-Chowan Foundation will operate the Steamers this summer.

Edenton Town Manager Anne-Marie Knighton said Wednesday the change in ownership is expected to be seamless.

“We will still have summer baseball and great players,” she said.

The Steamers play their home games at Historic Hicks Field, which is owned by Chowan County. Hicks Field is also the home field for the John A. Holmes High School baseball team.

“From a (Holmes) athletics standpoint, our relationship with Frank Burke and the Steamers over the time that he has been the owner has been nothing but first class,” Holmes Athletic Director Wes Mattera said in an emailed statement to the Chowan Herald on Wednesday. “Over his tenure he has helped us make numerous improvements to Hicks Field and our locker room facilities.”

Mattera also said Burke and his family have attended numerous Holmes sporting events, an indication the Steamers owner has “truly immersed himself” in the Edenton community. He wished Burke and his family well and said he hoped to see them at future Aces sporting events.

Burke said he plans to remain in Edenton following sale of the CPL franchise and will offer his assistance to the new baseball club in Edenton.

Before taking over the Steamers, Burke owned the Chattanooga Lookouts, a professional minor league baseball franchise in Tennessee that is a Double A affiliate of multiple Major League Baseball teams.

The current CPL was formed in 1997 and the Steamers celebrated their 20th season as a member of the league in 2017. The Clams won Coastal Plain League championships in 2004, 2005 and 2015 as Petitt Cup champions.

According to the CPL, the first edition of the league was formed in 1937 and played games through 1941 and the outbreak of World War II. The league resumed games in 1946 and continued through 1952. Edenton was home to one of the original CPL franchises.

The 2019 CPL season is slated to begin May 30 as the Steamers host the Morehead City Marlins.

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