NYCBL BASEBALL: Niagara University takes over as owner of returning franchise.
The switch has been flipped, and the Power is back on in Niagara Falls. Niagara Power coming back in summer of 2018
The Cataract City's collegiate baseball team, the Niagara Power, will return to the New York Collegiate Baseball League in the summer of 2018 following a two-year hiatus, the league announced Tuesday.
Much will seem the same to fans familiar with the team. The Power will still play at Sal Maglie Stadium, and former owner Cal Kern will have a strong presence.
But there will be plenty different.
The Power are now owned by the Niagara University College of Hospitality and Tourism Management and operated by students in its sport management program. NU becomes the first university in the country to own a collegiate baseball team and second, joining Ohio University, to operate one.
"It's going to be a great opportunity for students to learn grassroots baseball club management," said Kern, who'll play a large part in player recruitment.
"I'm expecting bigger and better things," he added. "(The NYCBL) welcomed us back with open arms. ... I see the league swinging in a very positive direction. There's a new commissioner (Joe Brown), and leadership is strong and progressive. I think he'll bring the league to the next level."
Leading the new Power is Patrick Tutka, and assistant professor at Niagara. Tutka has experience with with the Texas Collegiate League dating back to his time completing his masters and doctoral studies at Louisiana State University. He'll have a team of approximately 25 interns assisting him for course credits.
"I'm glad it's no longer one of the worst-kept secrets in the entire world," Tutka joked. "We're blessed to have the support of Niagara in the process."
Tutka ensured there'd be no issues with a university with Division I athletics owning a summer-league club. With the assistance of Niagara Director of Athletics Simon Gray and Assistant Athletic Director Susan Rourke, Tutka asked the NCAA for a ruling prior to the purchase of the franchise.
The NCAA allowed the purchase, though Niagara University baseball players will not be eligible to play for the Power.
Also involved is Neal Turvey, whose company, Niagara International Sports and Entertainment, runs Sal Maglie Stadium. For him, working to bring back the Power was a no-brainer.
The Power will just add another layer to a venue that's hosted around 200 youth baseball games this summer, according to Turvey. "The Barber Shop" is used for numerous youth games and tournaments and plays home to the travel teams of the Niagara Jr. Thunderwolves.
"It all kind of fits together," Turvey said. "It really makes sense for what we're doing there. ... The whole idea of our junior program is to get these kids opportunities to play college baseball, and then when they're playing in college, we can have a summer program for them to come back to.
"Every year we just try to add layers so we have as much activity as we can possibly get out of (the stadium)."
Having a private company running Sal Maglie Stadium should also alleviate some of the issues that arose during the Power's first run. Kern said the city-operated stadium often struggled to meet his team's needs.
"It's better with someone who understands how to manage a stadium," Kern said.
"It's different," Turvey explained. "The city's been great with us, but it's a different operation. The Power plays in the evening, and the city does a lot of work during the day. What we do is all evenings and weekends. It's just easier for us to pull off those operations."
The Power will return to the NYCBL's Western Division, where it'll play the Genesse Rapids, Olean Oilers, Hornell Dodgers, Rochester Ridgemen and Wellsville Nitros.
Niagara University will make an official announcement about its purchase of the Power in early October.