SVSU, Loons share strong partnership, hope to build a stronger future
June 25, 2007 —
We may all be Cardinals here at SVSU, but we also share a close connection with another well known migratory bird.
The Great Lakes Loons, a Minor League Baseball affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, landed in Midland this April, and share a strong connection with the University, particularly through the involvement of SVSU President Eric Gilbertson with the Michigan Baseball Foundation, the non-profit organization that purchased the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays and turned them into the Great Lakes Loons.
"Frankly, it's been a lot of fun to watch this happen," Gilbertson said.
The franchise announced its affiliation with the Dodgers in late 2006. The process of preparing the team for the coming season was underway.
"We got the chance to work with a historic franchise, and a franchise that has a history of looking after its minor league teams," Gilbertson said.
However, Gilbertson remains humble about his involvement, and directs much of the credit toward the founder of the Michigan Baseball Foundation, William Stavropoulos.
"I was asked to serve on the board of the Michigan Baseball Foundation," Gilbertson said. "A board is meant to provide guidance, not run the organization. I give all the credit to [Stavropoulos]. It was really his vision that would improve the quality of life, and create a stronger identity as a region as a whole. I was just asked to join the board and help."
Stavropoulos told the Midland Daily News earlier this month he "had to pinch himself" after seeing the success the Loons have had in the area so far. "It's something that we thought of two or three years ago, and it came together so quickly," he continued.
SVSU is also represented at the Dow Diamond, the new stadium at which the Loons play their home games. A large sign advertising SVSU sits on the center field wall for everyone to see, and, according to Gilbertson, represents the support SVSU has of the franchise, and the strong relationship between the two organizations.
"We are both major institutions in this area," Gilbertson said. "We became one of the sponsors of the Loons, and we wanted to be supportive."
SVSU has already held several events at Dow Diamond. The baseball team held a doubleheader against Northwood there in the spring. The park also hosted this year's GLIAC Championship and an SVSU student night shortly after its opening.
"I hope there will be more student nights over there like the one we had in the spring, because it's not that far, and if you look at it, the stadium was designed to party," recalled Gilbertson.
Gilbertson is excited about the future relationship between the University, and the Loons.
"We'd like to continue our relationship with them," Gilbertson said. "I would like to see a lot of cooperation between the two in the future, for example, package deals for our games and their games. There are a lot of ways to cooperate there, and a lot of good that can be done."
Aside from the strong relationship SVSU shares with the Loons, Gilbertson is simply glad to see the impact the team is having on the area.
"There is already a lot of quality of life here, and this helps," said Gilbertson. "It's great to go there on a Tuesday night, sit with a beer and a brat, and enjoy a baseball game."