Prescott Valley is pretty proud (and rightfully so) of their Sundogs team. And, now the Tim's Toyota Center has added the Adrenaline to the line-up, a brand-new Arena football team, which is already gathering fans faster than a speeding football. And folks from Prescott can take pride in the Blazers, a member of the semi-pro Pacific Baseball League. Or can they?
Last year, during their first season in Prescott, the Blazers had a record of 8-1 and went to Wichita, Kansas for the National Baseball Congress World Series. This year, it's likely that the Blazers won't even have a team in Prescott, much less make a repeat trip to Wichita, where they had a record of 2-2.
Originally from Phoenix, the Blazers moved to Prescott last year. Jeff Jacobs, owner, and his son, Michael, team manager, thought the nice summer weather and the small-town atmosphere would be an ideal setting for the team as a whole as well as the players.
The team consisted of mostly all-star college level students, hoping to get one more chance at being drafted by a Major League Baseball team. The players, who came from all over, included Prescott's own Devon Salome, and Louie Templeton from the Yavapai College Roughriders team.
Unfortunately, unless the team can develop some sponsorships quickly, it's likely that the Blazers will not be playing this year in Prescott or anywhere at all. In previous seasons, the Blazers' have had a financial deficit, and this year, they just can't afford to cover the expenses on their own.
"Basically, it's a matter of funding... the summer becomes very expensive without the help of local businesses or families willing to help out," Michael Jacobs explained, noting that besides the expenses involved with running a team, there are also housing needs for the out-of-town players. During the off-season, the Jacobs have full-time jobs to occupy their schedule. And then, during the season, Jeff and Michael are too busy managing the day-to-day responsibilities of a team to handle sponsorship development, too.
So, what will it take for the team to be able to play this year? According to Michael Jacobs, they need to develop sponsorships for everything from ads in a program, to game sponsors. And they also need about 6-8 families to agree to host out-of-town players for about 6 weeks during the season.
Sponsors can choose an amount as low as $50 (sponsoring the balls during a game) to as much as $6000 (for a set of uniforms - with the sponsor's name on it). Since the Blazers are actually a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, the sponsorships amounts can also double as a tax donation. But if they can't develop sponsors really quickly, they'll have to sit out the season and hopefully regroup for next year.
Taking a year off would not be an easy decision, according to owner Jeff Jacobs, "Next year is a possibility. Once we work out the problems, then I can focus on the team. I have always been a "team" player and it really hurts to not be able to follow through."
"It does not mean that next year we will not try again next summer," Michael Jacobs explained. "We apologize as it truly affects the opportunities for many athletes to come and enjoy the beautiful atmosphere in Prescott, the original reason for the move."