Lake Monsters preparing for new era to begin
Franchise makes debut in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League on May 27th
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The gates are open at Centennial Field.
The Vermont Lake Monsters franchise had its 28-year status as a minor league affiliate taken from it late last year as Major League Baseball contracted it’s minor league system. In February of this year, the club was sold to a group led by Montreal native Chris English, and announced that it would be joining the Futures Collegiate Baseball League as an expansion franchise this summer.
English also owns the Brockton Sox, another member of the Futures League.
It’s been two years of uncertainty for the Lake Monsters franchise since the 2019 season came to an end. The 2020 season was lost to the pandemic, the club lost it’s MLB-affiliate status and was ultimately sold. Entering the Futures League under new ownership truly feels like a relaunching of the franchise.
But the transition to this new era has been smooth so far. English brought in C-J Knudsen to serve as Senior Vice President. Knudsen, a Vermont native and Rice high school alum, serves as first the assistant GM, then general manager of the Vermont Expos/ Lake Monsters from 1997 to 2009 before spending ten years as the Senior VP of the Connecticut Tigers.
Knudsen brings the experience of running a successful franchise in Burlington. C-J says English has signed a five year lease agreement with the University of Vermont at Centennial Field and upgrades to the ballpark for this season and beyond are already underway.
Knudsen says it’s all a sign of the commitment the club’s new owner has to assuring fans that Lake Monsters baseball is back. “I think (new owner) Chris (English) saw that opportunity. He saw the opportunity that this is a great market, a great facility, great stadium, great fanbase, great sponsorships and this is a town that really needs and deserves baseball.”, said Knudsen.
“I think he saw the opportunity to make sure that the community has baseball here, not only for this year, but for many years to come.”
“I really don’t think for the fan experience, they’re going to see a difference.”, added Knudsen. “I think, if anything, the baseball is going to be better than the New York-Penn League was. The guys are going to be wearing the same uniforms, same logo and the most important thing is Champ is still going to be dancing on the dugout.”
The Vermont Lake Monsters make their Futures League debut on Thursday, May 27th at Westfield. The home opener at Centennial Field will be Saturday, May 29th at 6:05pm against Norwich.
Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.