The United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL) is an independent baseball league in Utica, Michigan that plans to begin operating next summer for the 2016 season. I recently interviewed the league’s Executive Director of Baseball Operations, Brian Berryman.
How did the idea of creating the United Shore Professional Baseball League come about?
This idea was a 10 year process. Our chairman / CEO Andy Appleby every good idea he’d seen and done in sports management and marketing and incorporated it into the USPBL. Andy helped to pioneer sports marketing back in the 80’s and 90’s and also owned a Minor League Team in Ft. Wayne IN for 8 years. We’ve instituted best practices in all aspects from sponsorships, sales, ticketing, value engineering and player development. Our league is going to be unique, traditional and cutting edge – which we believe will keep fans and players coming to the park for years to come.
What teams are going to be in the league, do they all have the same owner and how will the league (schedule) be set up?
We just released the names of the teams last week; ( Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers, East Side Diamond Hoppers, Utica Unicorns) You can find that press release HERE.
All 3 teams will be playing out of Jimmy John’s field in 2016. Our schedule is in the works now and will be release shortly. But all teams will play 50 games either Wed-Sunday or Thursday – Sunday. We’ll also have an all-star game and championship game. Since we are a single entity league we’ll own all the teams. Having said that, all teams will have their own managers & coaches and competitiveness of the league will be tremendous.
What made you chose Utica, MI as the location for the league and stadium?
Utica is a great town in Michigan that has all the best demographics that you could ask for when looking at independent professional baseball. Great highway exposure, location that’s close to a vibrant downtown and a city that understands and values what we’re bringing to the community.
You’re building a completely new stadium. How is the construction going?
We’ve been fortunate on the weather and our GC has been good to work with as well. Please see the attached Drone video HERE.
What are your expectations for fan attendance and community involvement?
We plan to try and sell out every game. We have all the dates you could want for professional baseball. We have a staff of professionals that leads the country in experience and a ball park that will be a gem in this great community. We plan to have summer reading programs and other avenues for the players to be involved.
We’ve seen a lot of independent leagues go dark due to finances and lack of marketing. Do you have any worries about that or about how you are going to finance the league?
We are ready to play in 2016 and have invested and raised significant capital to assure we’ll be around for years to come. We have also pre-sold most of our suites, premium seating and sponsorships.
What age and experience are you looking for with your players? Are there roster limits on age/experience?
Ideally we will be looking for the 20-25 year old player that just missed being drafted or signed by an affiliated team. We will also be working with players that have been released and still wanted to continue their dream of playing and making it to the major leagues.
How exactly does the pay system work for players? Are they given host families?
Players are paid on a monthly basis, similar to almost all independent leagues. The host family program is being discussed. We are working on the pay scale and should have this available in early 2016.
Do you expect the players to get a fair look from scouts with a chance to move up to affiliated ball?
Yes. 100%. We are investing in the best technology to be able to provide scouts and player development personnel the most up to date information on our players. We are also planning on hosting pro days to showcase our players throughout the season. Our goal is to give every player the opportunity to move to their next level.
What are you goals for this year and beyond?
The goal for 2016 is to get our stadium up and running, provide the best fan experience in the country and put the best product on the field. In the future we hope to build on our success, expand the league with new teams and continue to grow our brand.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about the USPBL?
Just that we believe we can be successful and starting in Metro Detroit is a big in help that most of us have lived here all or most of our lives (where our business and personal relationships are). We believe it will be successful if we all work hard and service our fans and stakeholders with great baseball.
I would like to thank Brian Berryman for doing the Q & A with me.
You can find more information on the USPBL on their Official Website.