The departure of the Columbus Catfish is a done deal.
Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and the South Atlantic League have all approved the relocation of the Catfish to Bowling Green, Ky. Major League Baseball was the last of the three governing bodies to give its approval. It did so Thursday, according to Michael Teevan, Manager for Media Relations for Major League Baseball.
The countdown for the Catfish, who have 35 home games remaining, began Thursday night when they hosted the Charleston Riverdogs. Columbus’ last home game is scheduled for Aug. 29 against Savannah. The Catfish close out the season on the road at Rome on Sept. 1.
A call to Art Solomon, who bought the Catfish from David Heller earlier this year, was not returned. Solomon also owns the Class AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
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Solomon, who is already sponsoring a name-the-team contest in Bowling Green, expects that a 4,000-seat ballpark will be ready to play in in April 2009, according to the Bowling Green Daily News. There was a groundbreaking for the stadium on June 4.
The new Bowling Green ballpark is part of a $250-million downtown redevelopment project.
If the stadium is not ready, Solomon expects to play the 2009 season at Western Kentucky University, according to the Bowling Green Daily News.
Heller moved the Catfish to Columbus just weeks prior to the start of the 2003 season. He had been unable to work out a lease agreement to keep the team in Albany, Ga., where it played for one season.
The team was known as the Waves back then and was supposed to call Golden Park home for just one year. The Catfish had plans to move to Evansville, Ind., for the 2004 season, but that deal fell through.
There were other possible moves that didn't happen, including Columbia, S.C., Bay City, Mich. and Mansfield, Ohio.
Golden Park has not been empty for a summer since the 1968 season. It is unlikely that a team with a major league affiliation will replace the Catfish at Golden Park. However, an independent league could place a team here.