LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Sept. 23, 2014) — Nearly 30 years after helping keep in Louisville a professional baseball team that today is a contributor to downtown’s resurgence, the partnership that owns the Louisville Bats has entered into a transaction with Manhattan Capital Sports Acquisition LLC, which will purchase the majority interest in the operating rights to the Bats franchise.
The local owners of the Bats (Class AAA; International League affiliate to the Cincinnati Reds) will remain as partners and expect a continuing focus on affordable, family-friendly baseball entertainment from the new ownership group.
“Our owners’ group thought long and hard about the future, and ensuring that this organization continues to flourish for many more years. We know this partnership is the right one for the Bats,” said Gary Ulmer, who will continue in an executive role with the Bats. “MC Sports is committed to minor league baseball and to bringing their expertise and resources to build on the great fan experience people have come to expect at Louisville Slugger Field.”
Headed by Stuart and Jerry Katzoff, MC Sports also owns the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Class A; Midwest League) and the Reno Aces (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League).
“We and our partners are thrilled about this great opportunity to further our commitment to the state of Kentucky and build upon Louisville’s strong tradition of successful baseball,” Stuart Katzoff said. “We are also excited to have Gary Ulmer continue on in his leadership role with the Bats.”
As founder and president of the private investment group, Manhattan Capital LLC, Stuart Katzoff was instrumental in developing a multi-million dollar entertainment district in downtown Reno near the Aces’ ballpark. The Aces have welcomed over two million fans since the club’s inception in 2009.
The Bats agreement with MC Sports is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approvals of the International League, Minor League Baseball and the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
Under the deal, existing Bats owners—including Ulmer, his father Dan Ulmer and Louisville businessmen Ed Glasscock, Steve Trager, Ken Huber and Mike Brown—remain partners in the organization. The Bats’ existing team management will remain in place as well.
“We’re so proud to have been able to build Louisville’s baseball heritage over the past three decades, with the support of our terrific fan base here,” said Dan Ulmer. “Now, with the added vision and support of the Katzoffs, we can expect continued success for this franchise and for baseball in Louisville.”
In 1986, Dan Ulmer was joined by Ed Glasscock and others in purchasing the franchise, and then called the Louisville Redbirds, helping keep professional baseball in Louisville. The team moved its home downtown to Louisville Slugger Field in 2000, and the Bats have consistently ranked among the minor league teams with the highest attendance year after year—contributing to a surge of activity and development downtown.
“Louisville Slugger Field is a community investment that continues to pay dividends many times over when you look at the immense transformation downtown Louisville has experienced since that first pitch was thrown,” said Glasscock. “The ballpark has been a catalyst for hundreds of millions of dollars in development and economic activity with new attractions, condos, restaurants, hotels and more in and around downtown, and provides a wonderful foundation for the Bats to continue to thrive.”