After going 37-63 and finishing last in the five-team independent Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball last season, the Newark Bears folded. The franchise returned in 1999 with a shiny new stadium but attendance and financial woes have forced ownership to shut down and sell everything off.
I'm not joking about selling everything off either. The team will hold a liquidation auction on Saturday morning and everything from lockers to the tarp to concession equipment to lawn mowers to the team bus is available for American dollars. If it's not literally a piece of the ballpark, it's up for auction.
According to the New York Times, the Bears averaged just 500 fans per game last season -- they needed about 2,000 to get by financially -- but that number is generous. In the video below, one member of the team's staff says it was as low as 50 fans a night.:
The Bears were stuck competing against several other local pro franchises, including the Yankees and Mets. The team has had several ambitious owners but none could drum up enough fan interest. “What happens when you give away thousands of free tickets and nobody comes? What's that tell you?” said Doug Spiel, the team owner.
The ballpark will be used for college, high school and possibly even little league games for the time being. Other events (such as the auction, will be hosted as well. Newark and Essex County are stuck paying for the stadium through 2029 and will continue to look for a new permanent tenant.
The Bears have had several big name players over the years, including Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco and Carl Everett. D'Angelo Jimenez was on the roster last year.