Report: Camden Riversharks Could Leave For Connecticut

Riversharks GM wants to stay in Camden, but real estate realities loom.

Campbell's Field. Photo | Jay Reed

Campbell’s Field. Photo | Jay Reed

Are the Camden Riversharks fleeing Camden for Connecticut? The Harford Courant, citing unnamed sources, says the Riversharks are a “likely candidate” to replace the New Britain Rock Cats next season in New Britain, Conn.

But Riversharks General Manager Lindsay Rosenberg told me on Thursday that the team wants to stay in Camden — but has not yet been able to work out a lease deal with the Camden County Improvement Authority which recently bought Campbell’s Field for $3.5 million. Nestled under the Ben Franklin Bridge, Campbell’s Field has been the Riversharks’ home since 2001.

“We have a short-term lease with [CCIA] that gets us through the end of this season,” said Rosenberg. “We gave them our proposal for a long-term lease and we’re waiting on their answer.”

When asked if the team wants to relocate, Rosenberg offered a defiant ‘no’.

“We don’t want to move. We want to stay in Camden, but it’s out of our hands,” she said. “There are all these great things are happening in Camden right now. All these companies are moving in. It’s only going to get better and better.”

Rosenberg is referencing the companies that have committed to moving to the city after receiving generous tax incentives from the state. Those companies include the Philadelphia 76ers, Lockheed Martin, Holtec International and Subaru of America. (Read more here.)

The Riversharks play in the Atlantic League, an independent league not affiliated with Major League Baseball. On Tuesday, the Atlantic League announced conditional approval to have a team play in New Britain, Conn. in the 2016 season. The league did not cite the Riversharks by name or say if the new team will be an existing team or an expansion team. There has been talk of the Atlantic League expanding from eight to 12 teams. Still, the Courant said that the administration of New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart said New Britain will be getting one of the existing eight teams.

(The Rock Cats moved from New Britain to downtown Hartford and will play as the Yard Goats. That left the ballpark open for a new team.)

The Riversharks have had solid attendance figures this season in Camden. The team has had 200,000 fans at the ballpark this season — and is on pace to surpass last year’s total of 209,486.