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Quails may be flying soon in Albany

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Bill Larsen left Albany on Thursday and drove back to Macon without a clear-cut answer as to whether the Peach State League will be able to field a minor league baseball team in Albany this season and next.

But there is little doubt that answer will ultimately be yes.

"Yeah, I feel like it's (imminent)," said Larsen, who had a meeting with Albany City Manager Alfred Lott and Albany Recreation and Parks Department Director Suzanne Davis on Thursday to discuss the proposed franchise, which would be called the Albany Quails. "There's a few things still to iron out -- like making sure (the dates we want to play) don't conflict with anyone's schedule who is already using (Paul Eames Park) and the name of the team. But for all intents and purposes, the meeting went great."

The only items holding up Lott and the city from giving the league the green light to begin fielding a team lie in making sure there is no objections to using the word "Albany" in the team name, as well as the teams of the lease.

"The name usually isn't a big deal, but we always like to ask the city and parks department as a courtesy to make sure everyone is comfortable with the name and there is no conflict," Larsen said. "We just want to make sure we're all on the same page."

Davis, for one, doesn't see either of those issues stopping the Quails from calling Southwest Georgia home someday very soon.

"Everything went very well (Thursday). The name just has to be signed off on and the lease agreement we presented is really a pretty standard one we give to any league, tournament or event that wants to use the park," Davis said. "And really, it's not even a lease (since this summer would be a trial run for the team). It's really just a rental agreement on a game-by-game basis and would pose no cost to the city."

Larsen said he expects to hear back "next week some time" and would decide how to proceed from there "in terms of the number of games we'd be able to play and that type of business."

Davis, in an e-mail to The Herald on Wednesday, spelled out what Thursday's proposal meeting would entail, as well as what the league's plans were for the Albany market.

"The Peach State League is proposing to use Paul Eames Stadium for 2010 and possibly 2011. The proposal is for 15 games in 2010 and then 42 games in 2011, based upon the response that they receive in 2010," she wrote. "The dates that the Peach State League are proposing (for the Albany franchise) for 2010 are: July 10, 11, 12, 13, 14; July 24, 25, 26, 27, 28; and August 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. The proposed game times are: weekday games starting time at 7 p.m.; Saturday games starting at 6 p.m.; and Sunday games starting at 2 p.m. These are just proposed dates and would have to be examined by ARPD to ensure that they do not conflict with any (American) Legion baseball or otherwise prescheduled game(s)."

If the proposal is accepted, professional minor league baseball would finally return to the area for the first time since 2008 -- and the fifth time in the city's history (six if you count the women's professional baseball team, the Silver Bullets).

Albany has been home to the Albany Cardinals, the Albany Polecats, the Albany Alligators and -- most recently -- the South Georgia Peanuts of the South Coast League.

But the SCL, established in 2007, folded in 2008 after one season -- and left a bad taste in the mouth of local baseball fans.

"It really is unfortunate what happened to the South Coast League down there before," Larsen said.

The Peanuts did, however, win the inaugural league championship under ex-New York Mets star player, Wally Backman, who is now the manager of the Mets' Class A affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones.