Baseball Australia chief executive Cam Vale has crunched the numbers and is convinced that a proposed Tasmanian ABL side could run annually on as little as a $500,000-a-year budget.
The aggressive plan to enter Tasmania’s all but vacant national sporting leagues market would be bankrolled by Asian baseball interests.
Major League Baseball sanctions costs for Australian Baseball League’s six clubs accessing players in the US.
“Baseball really is perfectly suited to being a sport that can particularly embrace regional Australia,” Vale said.
“We have a lower-cost model, we’re really suited to that absolute-level of activation and engagement, even though we can still take a very big global view of the sport with its reach into Asia.”
Vale said a unique model in which the highest costs for most rival sport leagues are the lowest for ABL teams.
A new club to share games between Launceston and Hobart could only have to pay 10 per cent of the wages of import players on a loan basis from Asia or the US.
“We’ve got a greater return on investment on some of those costs too,” Vale said.
Baseball Australia has begun talks with state government and Vale will hand over a business model to Premier Will Hodgman next month.
Vale said plans to seek out Geelong, Wollongong, Gold Coast and New Zealand, the ABL will be “an inclusive, not an exclusive league”.
“We’re going out with a two-team expansion at the moment, but we won’t cap expansion either,” he said.
“So if markets indicate that they are not ready yet, but they will be ready in two years, three years or even four years, then they won’t be excluded.
“It’s our point of difference that allows the model to work in different markets, so then we’re a bit cheaper as well to run.”
Vale, previously in his sports administration roles, has held prominent sway in Tasmania from the outside.
The 42-year-old was North Melbourne’s chief operations officer during negotiations to initially play two games a year in Hobart
He was also in charge of Hockey Australia when securing a five-year deal with government and local councils to alternate the national under-18 championships between Launceston and Hobart until 2020.
Vale said while Major League Baseball had hoped Australia could be a “green field site for baseball to grow”, Tasmania remained an untapped market that has unlimited potential.
“The way we can structure this team could truly represent the state and again put Tasmania in a national league, which is rightfully belongs,” he said.
“It’s crazy it’s only the Hurricanes (BBL side) down here – it makes zero sense to me as an administrator and I am happy to take the opportunity while others are waiting to make this work.
“Who knows? In 10 years time, the model could be absolutely flourishing and we can have a team in both Launceston and Hobart, which would be a great longer-term ambition.”