The Medford Rogues seemed like the obvious choice for the local West Coast League franchise but nothing became official until Tuesday afternoon's announcement by Rogues General Manager Chuck Heeman at Chadwicks Pub and Sports Bar in the Rogue Regency Inn.
After three weeks of voting, Heeman said the WCL's 11th franchise name — Medford Rogues — was selected from a host of submissions in a "Name The Team" contest presented by the Southern Oregon Media Group, which includes the Mail Tribune. Of the 200 entries gathered, 32 were for the "Rogues" team name, with Aaron Hoefling having his name pulled as the winning contest entry.
WHO: The 11th franchise of the West Coast League, which is a top-tier collegiate wood-bat baseball league. The Medford Rogues will begin play in June at Harry & David Field, which is currently undergoing renovations to increase seating and amenities.
For having his name drawn, Hoefling will receive two season tickets for the first two years, an autographed team ball and jersey, vouchers for food and merchandise and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch during the team's home debut in June.
"Of the 200 entries that we had in the contest, there was a lot of really good ones," said Heeman. "There were funny ones, good ones and some that were maybe a little bit offensive that you might not want to put out there in front of a family environment."
"Internally we were kind of rooting for (Medford Rogues) to win of the choices that were out there and we're very happy that it came out that way," he added. The second-most entries were for the name Medford Marauders.
The Rogues will feature a green, white and silver color scheme with a pirate-themed logo and boast three different hats and uniforms this season (home, away and alternate). Limited merchandise is available at the press box at Harry & David Field.
Working with Consolidated Sports Holdings International, Inc., the team's ownership group, the logo was designed by Keith Flynn of Flynnagain Productions. Flynn will also design the team's uniforms and mascot, which will be unveiled in early 2013.
Beyond the team name and logo, Heeman also announced the launch of the team's new website at www.medfordrogues.com and reiterated the commitment the program has from Radio Medford to broadcast its games this season on 580-AM and a partnership with the Rogue Regency Inn as its official lodging partner for the upcoming season.
Another exciting offshoot of Tuesday's press conference was the news that renovations at Harry & David Field began in earnest on Monday, with an estimated completion date for this coming April.
"It's kind of weird to get excited about dirt coming in but that's the first step of getting the place done," said Heeman, noting the efforts of KOGAP Enterprises, which has been running four trucks of fill dirt back and forth to the site.
"I can't wait to see it done," he added, echoing the sentiments of many in the Rogue Valley. "It's going to be awesome."
Heeman said fundraising efforts by the Medford Youth Baseball Society, spearheaded by Gary Miller, have kicked up to help fund the local group's half of the $500,000 project to complete the seating areas at Harry & David Field. CSH International, Inc., has pledged up to $250,000 as a matching gift to the MYBS's fundraising for the Batzer Construction project.
"It's happening a lot faster now that we're actually up and running," added Heeman. "I think a lot of people were waiting to make sure that we're actually going to do this and now that we've been open for business about six weeks, it's really taken off from there."
In-kind donations work toward that $250,000 goal for the project, which Miller previously said has been key to closing the gap, but the group is still actively seeking donations.
The seating plan unveiled Tuesday involves carrying the same chair-back seating already on hand to the edges of the dugouts along the first base and third base lines. Permanent bleachers will be added beyond that initial first five rows to extend seating capacity. A grass berm will be placed along the right field line beginning near first base, with a party deck to be built between the third base dugout and the current ramp that leads to the playing field.
Heeman said the seating count was at 2,178 when he last went over the figures but some of that may change depending on if the party deck lands at a capacity of 175 or 200. The grass berm was put at 700 but potentially could grow by another 100 or 200 seats. WCL President Ken Wilson said last June when Medford was awarded a WCL franchise that the league's average attendance is about 1,200 per game and approaches around 2,500 for its most popular franchises.
Heeman said once the dirt is in and graded, Knife River Construction will come in and pour concrete for the seating structures and other amenities.
"We'd like to have it done by April 1 but realistically mid-April is the timeframe as long as we're OK with the weather," he said. "The dirt and the grading is not the hard part, it's getting the weather for the concrete. You don't want to pour concrete when it's going to be sloppy for a month, you want to make sure it can cure up."
Ideally, Heeman said, the concrete would be poured and set before the local high school baseball teams begin their season in late March and will be needing to use the H&D facilities. At worst, he said the seats could be installed around the teams' schedules but he doesn't anticipate any issues with using the ballpark this spring.
Covered seating is not in the plans during this renovation but Heeman said the plan is to have a curved sunblock leading from each side of the current press box and concessions stand added hopefully for 2014. Down the road, there are also plans for a clubhouse and paving of side parking lots.
"Ideally we'd love to do it in the first year," Heeman said of adding protection from the spring rain and summer sun, "but I think the important thing is to get the seating done. But down the road, that is there (in the blueprint)."
For more information on the WCL, go to www.wccbl.com.