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Official Statement: Wild Things Suspend Season

Wild Things Suspend Season Under Threat of State Enforcement

For Immediate Release
August 10, 2020

Washington, PA – The Washington Wild Things confirm the organization was warned by the Pennsylvania State Police that a continuation of the baseball season could lead to enforcement actions. “We are extremely frustrated right now,” said Steven Zavacky, Executive Director and President of the organization, “We have done everything humanly possible to safely operate our facility…… we have gone above and beyond, and it was working.“

Earlier this spring, Governor Wolf permitted professional sports to resume play in front of 250 people; the Wild Things immediately went to work putting together an efficient and effective plan that would enable spectators to safely enjoy an afternoon or evening at the ballpark. 

“It was my job,” said General Manager Tony Buccilli, “to put together a program that would ensure our players and fans stayed safe while enjoying quality competition. To that end, the Wild Things invited three other teams to play a season in Washington County.  The teams did not travel, and all players remained in the Washington area.  From the very beginning, we worked to ensure safety for everyone involved.  All four teams were in isolation before the season began, and all the players were extremely responsible about this because they knew how important it was for this project to be successful.”

“When the Governor limited in person attendance to 250 people he also outlined a procedure for requesting an exception.  The Wild Things submitted a comprehensive plan to the Secretary of Health outlining all of the steps the Wild Things would take to keep people safe,” said Zavacky. “The Wild Things requested that they be allowed to operate at 50% capacity, which would be 2200 people. And we were extremely pleased the Secretary of Health approved the plan,” he added.  “At the beginning of the season when we saw an uptick in the number of cases in Southwest Pennsylvania, the Wild Things decided to not exceed 250 people, even though we had an exemption because this action was the most responsible way to respond to the circumstances.

Protocol throughout the summer at Wild Things Park has included minimizing in-person ticket sales, monitoring employees and players health, performing temperature checks on fans entering the park, requiring masks, and offering a concession menu that included canned beverages, prepackaged condiments, prepackaged ice cream products and prepackaging hot dogs and hamburgers. The Wild Things also added social distancing signage, a reserved section for people aged 55 and older, plexiglass shields as well as hand sanitizing stations throughout the park.  The facilities were cleaned and disinfected before and after every game.

Zavacky continued, “Despite the fact that we were successfully providing families with safe, quality entertainment, I was warned this morning that the Wild Things were out of compliance with the Governor’s edicts.  While we vehemently disagree, the message was clear.  End the season or face consequences that would cripple the organization going forward.”

Buccilli went on to say, “We feel terrible. We never want to disappoint our fans and we were hoping not to have layoffs. Equally painful, we’re pulling the rug out from under our players and coaching staff who are in the middle of playoffs.  It’s terrible to work hard, trying do the right things, and then to be accused of doing something wrong.”

Stu Williams, one of the team owners added, “The Wild Things have continued to be an economic generator for Washington County this summer, drawing people from all over the country to Washington, PA where they could experience one of a handful of places hosting live professional baseball.  In addition, the Wild Things generated business for area hoteliers, landlords, and restaurants, by drawing four baseball teams to live here for six weeks.   We couldn’t have done any of these without several individuals who helped us to have as successful a summer as we had.  From state officials: Senator Camera Bartolotta, Representative Tim O’Neal to County Commissioners Diana Irey-Vaughn, Nick Sherman, and Larry Maggi to the great folks at North Franklin Township including Supervisors Bob Sabot, Sil Passalacqua, and Mike Quinn and their staff, and to everyone at The Washington County Tourism and Promotion Agency.  We also thank our corporate partners for staying with us this summer.  The Washington County Community is a very helpful and supportive one and we will always be grateful for the consideration they extend to us.”

Official release provided by washingtonwildthings.com

Atlantic League Adds Gastonia, NC For 2021 Season

Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Expands to City of Gastonia, NC

Team Owner Brandon Bellamy Eager To Bring ALPB Excitement to Gastonia Community

(July 28, 2020, Gastonia, NC) – The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) announced today it is expanding to the City of Gastonia with a team ownership group led by Brandon Bellamy, CEO of Velocity Companies, Inc. Gastonia becomes the second Atlantic League location in North Carolina, joining High Point, where the Rockers began play in 2019.

“We are delighted to bring Atlantic League baseball to Gastonia, a city that has shown tremendous ingenuity and resolve, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ALPB President Rick White. “Under Mr. Bellamy’s ownership, this club and the ALPB will provide the community with best-in-class baseball and exceptional entertainment for years to come.”

In partnership with the City of Gastonia, Bellamy and The Velocity Companies will collaborate on economic development projects tied to the ballpark, which are expected to include residential, retail, hotel, and office space properties, a potential $100M investment opportunity for the City.

“When we learned of this incredible project, we realized it was an opportunity not just to own a team but also to connect with a community that deserves to be showcased,” said Bellamy. “The City of Gastonia has a strong entrepreneurial history, and we are excited to be a part of its continued growth. We look forward to becoming a good neighbor and making a lasting impact in Gastonia.”

The city’s 5,000-seat multi-use ballpark, which will be managed by the team, is under construction according to Atlantic League facility specifications and will host family-friendly programming, provide an intimate fan experience with sports and innovative gatherings, and offer a unique field configuration. The venue will serve as a community recreational asset open to all for its inaugural season in 2021, offering year-round access, anchored by ALPB play, plus entertainment events, community-based sports, and recreational activities. It will function as the centerpiece of the Franklin Urban Sports and Entertainment (FUSE) development, a transformative redevelopment project for the City of Gastonia.

“We are excited to have Mr. Bellamy join us in our continued efforts to create a great place that our community can be proud of,” said Gastonia’s Mayor Walker Reid, III. “This is a milestone for our city and an example of how economic development partnerships invigorate a community and prove to be mutually beneficial for all parties.”

City Manager Michael Peoples added, “This project required all of us to think outside of the box and work together for the City’s future. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Mr. Bellamy and the Atlantic League as we reimagine what Gastonia is capable of achieving.”

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About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)
With eight teams in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas, the ALPB is a leader in baseball innovation and a player gateway to Major League Baseball. Through its exclusive partnership with MLB, the Atlantic League tests Major League Baseball rules and equipment initiatives. The Atlantic League has sent more than 950 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 42 million fans to its affordable, family-friendly ballparks throughout its 23-year history. For more information, please visit AtlanticLeague.com.

About the Ball Club
The Gastonia baseball team will operate under the formal entity NC Gas House Gang, LLC and is majority owned by Velocity Companies, LLC CEO Brandon Bellamy (www.thevelocitycompanies.com). Among other investors, Mr. Bellamy is joined by ARCTRUST Properties, Inc. CEO Robert Ambrosi (www.arctrust.com).

About Brandon Bellamy
Brandon Bellamyis a passionate and purpose-driven real estate entrepreneur and currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Velocity Companies. Over the past 30 years, Mr. Bellamy has excelled in real estate investment, real estate development, and private fund management. Mr. Bellamy couples a unique knowledge of market-rate and affordable housing development and a superior understanding of financial engineering to impact existing and developing communities. During his tenure at The Velocity Companies, the firm has developed and consulted on projects located in the Mid-Atlantic and the Carolinas with an aggregate asset value exceeding $500 million. For more information, please visit www.thevelocitycompanies.com.

About the City of Gastonia
Gastonia, NC, just minutes west of Charlotte, is one of the area’s best places to live and work with an ideal combination of location, size, and livability. Gastonia is the largest of Gaston County’s 15 municipalities and one of the largest cities in the Charlotte metropolitan area. Selected as an All-America City three times, Gastonia’s desirable quality of life is the result of its beautiful natural surroundings, friendly neighborhoods, responsive government, and vibrant business environment.