Lugnuts, A’s minor-league affiliate, being sold; new owners committed to Lansing

Detroit News

The Lansing Lugnuts, one of the state’s three affiliated minor-league organizations, will be sold.

Diamond Baseball Holdings, which owns multiple minor-league teams across the country, has agreed to purchase the High-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s, the team announced Wednesday morning. DBH also announced its commitment to Lansing, which has been the home of the team since the mid-1990s.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to own such an iconic franchise as the Lugnuts,” Peter Freund, CEO of DBH, said in a statement. “We could imagine a better city, ballpark or management team, and we look forward to being part of the Lansing community for years to come.”

The deal is subject to approval by the Midwest League and the City of Lansing.

Take Me out to the Ballgame, run by managing partner Tom Dickson, has owned the Lugnuts since they first arrived in Lansing. TMO bought the Waterloo Diamonds in 1994 and brought them to Lansing in 1996.

The Lugnuts arrived in Lansing as one of the city’s biggest businesses, Oldsmobile, was starting to wind down production. They built a $12.7-million ballpark, which now includes outfield apartments, and anchors an entertainment district in the city, just down the road from the state Capitol. The Lugnuts were fourth in the Midwest League in attendance in 2022, averaging 3,429 fans — behind the West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers, second; 3,932) and ahead of the Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers; eighth; 2,153).

In the early years, the Lugnuts routinely drew more than 7,000 fans, even setting a minor-league attendance record for a debuting Single-A team, averaging 7,802 fans in 1996. They drew 7,813 per game in 1997.

The Lugnuts’ rights to Jackson Field, which underwent a $25.5-million renovation in 2014-15, run through 2034, and according to a press release Wednesday, the new owners plan to keep the team in Lansing “far longer than that.”

The Lugnuts previously have been affiliates of the Blue Jays, Cubs and Royals.

“The Lugnuts have been one of the greatest joys in my life. It is a bittersweet decision to sell the team,” Dickson said in a statement. “We say in baseball that a season is a marathon, not a sprint. These last 27 years have been their own marathon — at times exhilarating, at times challenging, but at all times rewarding. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. It’s been, frankly, pretty nuts what we’ve been able to accomplish.

“I can promise you that DBH’s Peter Freund and Pat Battle are terrific people who love baseball, and I am confident that the Lugnuts and the City of Lansing are in good hands with them.

A purchase-price agreement was not disclosed. Zac Clark will remain the team’s general manager.

DBH owns 12 other affiliated minor-league teams, including four each in Triple A, Double A and Single A.

Baseball returns to Jackson Field on Tuesday, April 4, when the Lugnuts play their annual exhibition game against Michigan State. The Lugnuts open the Midwest League season Friday, April 7.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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