Field of Dreams

Brockton Rox owner Chris English, a former hedge fund manager, wants to turn the team into a winner on the field and a money-maker off the diamond. Sound familiar?

You’ve owned several minor league professional teams in the Northeast. What about owning a team of college players in the Futures League in Brockton interested you when the previous owners, who included high-profile people like Bill Murray, couldn’t make the Rox work with professional players? We have a very disciplined business model. We know how to run professional baseball teams. The former Rox team had a $3 million English36flatbudget. Our annual operating budget is about $500,000 a year so we need only about 1,200 [fans] a night to break even.

What did you see going on in Brockton that made you think you could succeed? Brockton is a city that has had its challenges. We looked at Brockton, we saw a lot of development coming and there was strong leadership in City Hall. We view baseball as a civic trust. But we’re not a nonprofit; we’re in this to make money.

You’re in a baseball hotbed in this region, with the Red Sox and the Cape League. Is there a point of saturation? We don’t compete with the Red Sox, we compete with the movie theater. I’ll go to a couple Red Sox games a year but it’s expensive, let’s face it. A family of four going to a Sox game is like $300. Coming to our game for a family of four is about $50.

A casino is being proposed for across the street. How would that affect your plans? Whether or not the casino gets built — we hope it does — we’re trying to create an entertainment center for the South Shore. When the casino comes to town, we’ll become sort of this destination complex where you can come for all your entertainment needs.

The casino plan includes convention space, which could undercut the Shaw Center [part of the baseball stadium complex]. What would that do to your business model? There is a highest and best use for that facility. It might very well make sense to tear that down and build a smaller boutique hotel. The Shaw Center is an underutilized asset. We view it as a very valuable appendage.

 

Your season goes from June to August. What’s the plan for cashing in the rest of the year? One of the things we did here that nobody has done was we looked at our demographics and saw we had a big Haitian and Cape Verdean population and none of them are ever coming here. So we asked why not? We put together a couple of really fun events. We’re going to turn our baseball field into two six-on-six soccer fields, have a tournament and a championship, then hold a Caribbean festival.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

You were a hedge fund manager, like [Red Sox owner] John Henry. You talk about applying analytics from that field to the game, much like he has. Is there a parallel? There’s absolutely a parallel, on a microscopic scale. What they do is light years ahead of where we’re at. We’re only in the second-inning of moneyball. Having a hedge fund background where you think analytically is really a commodity.

Do you get involved in day-to-day baseball decisions? Absolutely. But let me give you the caveat. We have an operating philosophy that is based on analytics. We don’t steal, we don’t bunt, we have an eight-man rotation, we employ shifts, then the lineup card is [head coach Jason Szafarski’s.] I second guess after the game.