Atlanta to get pro softball team
By Kristi E. Swartz
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A group of investors has signed a letter of intent with the National Pro Fastpitch softball league to bring the Rockford Thunder—a six-year-old franchise from Rockford, Ill.—to the area, Atlanta attorney Preston Delashmit said.
Delashmit and his family would be the majority owners, he said. He declined to disclose financial terms of the deal.
The deal is pending league approval, Delashmit said.
The Rockford franchise won the 2009 league championship. The current owner, an Illinois attorney, said in August he had three children entering college and “we just have too much on our plate to continue to operate the Thunder at the level it deserves.”
Delashmit said he would buy the assets from the attorney but also has to acquire the franchise rights from the league.
He would like to keep the “Thunder” name but must confirm that it's not already being used.
“It would have been simpler if we had bought the team and it had stayed in Rockford, but the whole idea is to relocate to Atlanta,” he said. "We'd like to keep the team intact as much as possible."
Delashmit said he hopes the team will play at Kennesaw State University, which recently bought 88 acres for intramural and club sports fields as well as an 8,300-seat stadium.
The Fastpitch pro softball league was formed 18 years ago in Boulder, Colo and is now based in Tennessee. Besides Rockford, there are teams in Akron, Ohio; Chicago; Kissimmee, Fla.; and Allentown, Pa.
The Rockford franchise started in Houston as the Texas Thunder. It was moved to Northern Illinois three years later.
Delashmit’s daughter has been playing softball since age 5 and is a freshman outfielder at Georgia Tech. He said his plans were to bring a team to Atlanta in two or three years but when the Rockford team was for sale, he decided to take advantage. He met with the coaches at Georgia Tech—assistant coach Aileen Morales played for the Chicago Bandits for two years—and "started talking about how we could pull this together.”
The season starts again in June. For Delashmit, a project that was going to take maybe two years now has to come together in about 30 days, he said.
“We’re hoping to be able to pull this off and keep more of our southern athletes here and close to home,” he said. “A lot of these players, who are now elsewhere, played in the SEC and the ACC.”
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Posted 14 November 2011 - 12:55 PM
Posted 14 November 2011 - 10:41 PM
Posted 29 August 2015 - 06:03 AM
I bet he started making this deal before he actually saw the books. I'm pretty sure the Thunder team (and all its iterations) have had new ownership with every move. The new investor usually has a daughter or two who plays or has played softball and maybe gets excited at the prospect of having a place for his daughter to play professionally if she chooses. The investor gets excited at the chance to own a professional sports team and starts making moves to make it happen, but then when the books finally get thrown open and the problems with running a pro fastpitch team reveal themselves the investor chickens out.
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