TERRE HAUTE —
The future of the Terre Haute Rex is up in the air like a shattered wooden bat.
The team just finished its fourth season as a member of the Prospect League, one of many collegiate summer leagues around the nation. The team is owned by the Indiana State Foundation and president Ron Carpenter has publicly said, both before and after the season, that the Rex is no longer part of his organization’s mission.
On the field, the Rex provided a solid baseball team that finished with a winning record for a fourth straight season. Behind local talent such as shortstop Tyler Wampler — his .341 batting average was tops on the team and fourth in the league — Terre Haute posted a 32-28 record. But the Rex finished in third place in their division, 2 1/2 games behind second-place Quincy, to miss the playoffs for the first time since its inaugural 2010 season.
While the final record was positive, 2013 was the second straight season the team was not profitable, Rex general manager Casey DeGroote confirmed Thursday. DeGroote said the team struggled financially in 2013.
“Were we making money? No. We just need to invest more in it. We need more people selling it and beating the door down for businesses to be a part of the Rex. There’s a lot of unique ways to get involved,” DeGroote said.
Efforts to reach Carpenter were unsuccessful Thursday.
Companies like Great Dane became more involved in 2013, having two corporate parties and sponsoring the inaugural cornhole tournament on a Saturday afternoon in between two Rex games at Bob Warn Field.
The Rex reported attendance totals of 29,261 fans to the league, for an average of 975 per game that ranks fourth best in the league. Season tickets sold dropped from 415 in 2012 to 360 in 2013. Extreme heat in 2012 caused the team problems, but the 2013 summer was mild in comparison.
“We just didn’t have those big nights. We’d have 1,200 to 1,500 fans on five or six weekends in the past and we really didn’t have that until our last [home] game,” DeGroote said. “With our promotions, and we had some new businesses coming in, we’re still laying the groundwork for continuing to build.”
The Rex hit a previous high, according to intern Julius Smith in the ticket office, of 900-plus fans for the “Strike Out Breast Cancer” night in late July. Paid attendance that night was 1,446.
Prospect League commissioner Dave Chase is hopeful that Terre Haute can remain a key piece of the 11-team league.
“I think they’ve been unbelievable in Terre Haute,” Chase said. “I’ve seen kids running the bases on the field, and they can’t distinguish between the Terre Haute Rex and the New York Yankees. That’s the value of community baseball.
“I remain optimistic. Terre Haute is one of the star franchises in our league by the way they present the game. We’ve held them up as a model franchise for a long time. I loved the idea of the Foundation owning the team. I have talked to other schools urging them to look at it. I’m not privy to the internal workings of how it worked. I think it’s a viable opportunity. Perhaps it needs to be tweaked to make it work.”
Chase said that Aug. 1 was the deadline for teams to inform the league members that they would not be a part of the league in 2014 and that he has not been told the Rex are folding.
But a change in ownership could be coming soon.
Former Rex manager Brian Dorsett is researching the possibility of working with partners to own the team.
“I’ve had people approach me about getting involved with a group. I’ve not said no. I’d have to really look at how it would actually work. There’s a lot of unanswered questions that we’ve not been able to obtain answers to,” said Dorsett, a former major-league catcher and owner of Dorsett Hyundai and Dorsett Nissan dealerships in Terre Haute.
“From Terre Haute and for the players, and for the fans most importantly, I want to see it work. It’s going to take a big commitment, not just financially, but from the time perspective.”
Terre Haute mayor Duke Bennett has been a regular at least 10 Rex games each summer, he said.
“It’s been great entertainment,” Bennett said. “I love sports anyway. It’s been exciting to have a local team, a Terre Haute team, that people have rallied around. It’s nice to see people from Marshall, Rockville and towns around the area. They’re all kind of drawn here to see the Terre Haute team.”
Steve Witt, president of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp., said he’s enjoyed seeing local businesses partner with the Rex. Witt said bringing baseball fans into the city is a good thing because those people could become aware of other amenities to make a return visit, providing the Terre Haute Children’s Museum as an example.
“It’s certainly a marketing tool. That’s why they participate in partnership. There’s a myriad of benefits that the team brings to the community,” Witt said. “The Rex are certainly a positive amenity for the community. They bring a great deal of pleasure to local baseball fans. It helps market the community in general.”
Chase said summer baseball and profits don’t always go hand-in-hand.
“Some make more money than others. Most are hanging around the break-even point. The real goal is to keep baseball in their community. We have some owners that are able to operate at a small loss and others are able to profit,” Chase said. “For almost 10 years, I was general manager of the Memphis Redbirds. We were a not-for-profit. We made millions and just put it back into the community.”
DeGroote remains hopeful that the hard work he and countless volunteers have put into the team can pay off under new ownership.
“I think we’ll be around. There’s too many people that want it to be around. Hopefully we can make it happen,” DeGroote said.
The mayor agreed, having seen quality people collaborate to bring a positive venture to the city’s summer landscape.
“You see the quality of the kids and it’s fun to watch. I’m hopeful that somebody will be able to pick this up and carry it forward. It’s turned out to be a positive thing for the community,” Bennett said.
TERRE HAUTE —
The future of the Terre Haute Rex is up in the air like a shattered wooden bat.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Odum rises to WSU challenge
When you’re getting ready to play the No. 2 team in the country — the undefeated No. 2 team in the country and the best Missouri Valley Conference team in a generation — the unwritten rule says you’re not supposed to rile them. That you’re not supposed to poke the hornet’s nest.
Clock problems delay start of Indiana State semifinal game
Time stood still in Scottrade Center on Saturday.
Not by design.
Sycamores advance to Arch Madness title game
No one said advancing to the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament championship game was going to be easy.
ISU women grab share of MVC regular-season title
The preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite lived up to its expectations, as the Indiana State women’s basketball team grabbed a piece of the regular-season title with an 85-72 triumph over host Northern Iowa on Saturday afternoon inside McLeod Center.
Robinson leads No. 12 Michigan over Indiana
Glenn Robinson scored 20 points, including a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1:10 to play, and Jordan Morgan had a double-double in his final home game to help No. 12 Michigan finish off its Big Ten championship season with an 84-80 victory over Indiana on Saturday night.
Michigan (23-7 15-3) avenged last year’s defeat in the last game of the regular season. In that game, Morgan’s tap-in rolled off the rim as time expired, giving the Hoosiers the victory and costing the Wolverines a share of the conference title.
ISU headed to MVC title game
Indiana State defeated Southern Illinois 62-59 on Saturday to advance to Arch Madness championship game.
Ramblin’ On: Sycamores use defensive stops to reach Missouri Valley semifinals
It sounds counter-intuitive, but to go forward in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament you must first get stops. In Friday’s MVC Tournament quarterfinal against Loyola, ISU followed that bit of zen to a tee. The Sycamores never let the Ramblers get comfortable offensively and put a hammer-lock on Loyola standout Milton Doyle. ISU rode its defense to an easy 75-62 victory at Scottrade Center.
ISU baseball looking to carry success home
Indiana State had pitching questions coming into the season, having lost its entire starting staff from a year ago.
So far anyway, those questions have been answered. The Sycamores are 9-1 going into their home opener today against Western Illinois.
Metro sports: Rose-Hulman picks up baseball win
A late run in the eighth-inning broke a 4-all tie and proved to be the game winner for Rockford College in a 5-4 decision over the Rose-Hulman baseball team Friday at the Chain of Lakes Complex.
Indiana State women move within one win from MVC title
Senior Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir had 23 points to lead Indiana State to a 73-71 win at Drake on Thursday. The point guard led four Sycamores in double figures in the win.
Anna Munn, Jasmine Grier and Chelsea Small each chipped in 11 points as ISU shot 10-of-21 from 3-point range as a team.
Sycamores rejuvenated heading into MVC Tournament quarterfinals
Indiana State point guard Jake Odum is sick-and-tired of being sick and tired.
He’s tired of hearing about the team’s three-game losing streak. He’s tired of the Sycamores playing below par. He’s tired of the team not fulfilling its potential.
He plans to do something about it this weekend. Second-seeded ISU begins its Missouri Valley Conference Tournament trek at 7:05 p.m. tonight against either No. 10 Loyola.
Rose-Hulman seniors lead Engineers into NCAA Division III Tournament
For Rose-Hulman’s six senior men’s basketball players, this weekend will mark the beginning of their third and final appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Having left Terre Haute by bus Thursday, Rose (22-5) will open the Division III four-team regional at Hope College in Holland, Mich., today against Wheaton College (19-8) at the unique time of 5:30 p.m.
Coach Jim Shaw’s Engineers are coming off Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) regular-season and tournament championships for the second consecutive year.
ISU women seek top MVC seed
Defense and rebounding are the staples of Teri Moren’s fourth Indiana State team, a squad that hits the road trying to defend and rebound its way to a regular-season conference title. The Sycamores women’s basketball can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference with wins tonight against Drake and Saturday against Northern Iowa.
Nebraska completes sweep of Indiana
Indiana’s slim hopes of an NCAA Tournament bid are all but done, unless the Hoosiers can win the Big Ten Tournament. Nebraska never trailed Wednesday night, completing a season sweep of the Hoosiers with a 70-60 win. The loss ensures a losing conference record for IU (17-13, 7-10 Big Ten) while boosting the Huskers’ chances at an at-large berth.
ISU reserve Smith earns two MVC honors
Indiana State sophomore Khristian Smith has been named to the Missouri Valley Conference’s All-Bench and Most Improved Teams, according to an announcement by the league office Wednesday.
Two Sycamores with Scott during Saturday incident
A Vigo County’s Sheriff’s case report of Brenton Scott’s arrest last Saturday indicated that Scott, an Indiana State basketball player, tried to pass himself off as his twin brother and that two of his teammates were with him at the time of the incident.
Metro Sports: Sycamores to be represented at NCAA indoors
Three members of the Indiana State track and field team will compete in the 2014 NCAA indoor championships March 14-15 at Albuquerque, N.M. Senior Greggmar Swift will represent the men, while sophomore Katie Wise and senior Mary Theisen will represent the women.
Rose meets Wheaton in NCAA opener
Rose-Hulman will open its third straight trip to the NCAA Division III basketball tournament at 5:30 p.m. Friday when the Engineers play Wheaton in a four-team regional hosted by Hope College.
Metro: No ISU baseball today; home opener now Friday
Indiana State’s baseball home opener that was to be played today has been pushed back, according to Sycamore head coach Mitch Hannahs.
ISU's Scott booked for OWI, possession
Indiana State men's basketball player Brenton Scott was booked into the Vigo County Jail on Saturday for operating while intoxicated, possession of marijuana/hash, possession of paraphenalia and false reporting/informing.
Odum can't get roll on game-winning attempt on Senior Day
The storybook was ready to be opened at Hulman Center on Saturday.
Down two with 4.5 seconds to go, Indiana State rebounded a free throw miss by Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle. ISU senior point guard Odum timed his dash perfectly up the floor. He released his shot from just behind the 3-point line at just the right second. The shot was true and online.
TODD GOLDEN: Lansing's belief in his team has not wavered
In the wake of Indiana State’s 71-69 loss to Northern Iowa on Saturday, and the three-game losing streak that comes with it, ISU coach Greg Lansing wanted to get one point across crystal clear in his postgame press conference.
VIDEO: Munn has made her mark on ISU women's program
Anna Munn has been a dependable leader in the Indiana State women’s basketball program. Her leadership has helped coach Teri Moren build to back-to-back 10-or-more win seasons in the Missouri Valley the last two years.
Rose-Hulman wins third straight HCAC tournament crown
Tied with Hanover 26-26 at halftime of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball championship game Saturday night, host Rose-Hulman knew it had a couple of things in its favor.
Rolling along: Third straight victory helps Sycamores tie for second in MVC
Aside from Teri Moren sticking with her pink Chuck Taylor shoes on the sideline for superstitious reasons, Indiana State’s three-game winning streak can be explained by strong play in nearly every aspect of the game.
Sycamores stay positive in face of adversity
After Indiana State’s 77-59 loss at Illinois State on Wednesday, ISU players had an idea of how the tone of Thursday and Friday’s practices would be prior to today’s regular-season finale against Northern Iowa.
Engineers, Hanover to vie for HCAC title
For the second year in a row, the men’s basketball teams of Rose-Hulman and Hanover will square off for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship in Terre Haute.
Metro: ISU softball win streak reaches 6
Indiana State improved its college softball winning streak to six games Friday by beating Wright State 4-3 and IUPUI 3-2 on the opening day of the Holiday Inn Hilltopper Classic.
Odum's final chapter is here; how will he author the ending?
If you compare a college basketball career to a book, Indiana State point guard Jake Odum has been a page-turner from day one.
Odum has dazzled ISU fans from the time he became a starter during the first weekend of his first season in 2010. The Sycamores have not had a losing season during the Odum era, a run of success unprecedented in ISU’s Division I history.
VIDEO: Indiana State women looking to add to winning streak at home
Indiana State looks to put a three-game winning streak together tonight against Loyola, who topped the Sycamores behind 30 points by senior forward Troy Hambric for one of the Ramblers’ nine wins this season.
The Sycamores’ women’s basketball team stifled Missouri State last Friday and knocked off first-place Wichita State on Sunday for a pair of road wins last weekend. They'll look to build upon that momentum tonight at home.
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- FROM THE PRESS BOX: Odum rises to WSU challenge