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Guelph Royals baseball team folds

Owner Jim Rooney hoping to find new investor to take over the team next season
Guelph Royals pitcher A.J. Mackey delivers a pitch to a Hamilton Cardinals batter. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday

The Guelph Royals baseball team is ceasing operations effective immediately.

Owner Jim Rooney made the announcement Wednesday.

The Guelph Royals were set to celebrate their 100th anniversary next season and Rooney said he is hopeful a new owner will step forward and allow that to happen.

“This decision was not arrived at quickly,” said Rooney, who has been trying to sell the team without success.

“It’s time for new investors to take this team and take it into the next century.”

Rooney has owned the team for eight seasons.

He said discussions were held with potential new owners but nothing materialized.

Rooney cited poor on-field performance, financial challenges and his own health issues as reason for folding the team.

The league has been informed and will do its best to help players find new teams, he said.

Rooney said he could not find someone willing to purchase the team.

“We tried, but nobody said ‘I’ve been waiting all my life for this opportunity,’” he said.

The team has had trouble attracting players and just found out its best pitcher was leaving, he said.

Continuing to play while not being competitive and losing money made no sense.

The Royals currently sit dead last in the Intercounty Baseball League standings with just one win in 16 games this season. They have finished in last place in three of the past four seasons.

In 2011 they took a one-year hiatus from the league.

Rooney said it costs between $50,000 and $60,000 a season to operate the Royals, who are a registered not-for-profit organization.

He said the Intercounty Baseball League has become a “two-tiered league” with “haves and have-nots,” adding that some teams operate on budgets of between $150,000 and $200,000.

“The league has some issues,” Rooney said.

The team’s last game was Sunday, a 16-9 to the Hamilton Cardinals. They were supposed to play Friday in London.

“We are of course very saddened by the decision by the Guelph Royals to take a leave of absence,” said IBL commissioner John Kastner.

“It is a storied franchise and it is our hope that the Rooney family can find new ownership in Guelph and the Royals return for 2018. We know it was a difficult decision and not arrived at lightly,” added Kastner.