Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - The Syracuse Chiefs are facing one of their most important offseasons in club history.
Facing low attendance and a mountain of debt, the board of directors approved a change in leadership on Monday.
The board accepted a proposal from President Bill Dutch and two other members to loan the team $500,000.
The decision has also meant the Chiefs would part ways with General Manager John Simone, whose family has been with the team nearly 50 years.
For Simone, it means parting ways with a world his family has been associated with throughout his life.
But with the club finishing nearly half a million in the red and attendance at its lowest in nearly two decades, the board was ready to make a change.
“There's individuals that want control of the ballclub and now they have it, which is their prerogative, they're our board of directors who represent the shareholder and if they wanted John Simone out of there then it's all they had to do was tell me. They didn't have to go through the circus they did in the last few weeks and that's what it was and if they think it’s going to help baseball in this community, good luck to them,” Simone said.
Simone admits the team has been conservative with spending – but says that corporate sponsorships are drying up and the team was operating within its means.
"When you're micromanaged from the top, it’s very difficult to run any business and I believe the people I listened to or had to listen to could go into the micromanaging hall of fame,” Simone said.
Simone says that many of the expenses the club accrued as part of its lease agreement with the county are hurting it.
The club is now paying for all of its utilities, along with all of the other elements that go into running a facility.
"I didn't sign the new lease, I didn't borrow the money for the scoreboard – all the things in my opinion put this operation in the hole,” Simone said.
Simone arranged a bid to try to save the team – much like his legendary father, Tex Simone – once did. But the effort was unsuccessful.
"When you talk 50 years, there's so much history and things that have happened from opening this stadium and operating this stadium. All the things that happened in this stadium from just a few years ago with Strasburg and Darryl Strawberry, there's many memories in this stadium as there was in MacArthur Stadium,” Simone said.
He says for years they’ve been maintaining the kind of marketing and promoting that teams do in other cities.
"I hope this group is successful – people think I don't but I hope it’s successful. I hope baseball is here, hopefully we can come out to the ballpark next year and enjoy watching a game and hopefully it's here for a longtime,” Simone said.
The Chiefs have a contract with the Washington Nationals through one more season. No one has indicated whether that contract will continue.
NewsChannel 9 tried on multiple occasions to reach Board President Bill Dutch, but he declined to return phone calls or phone messages.