Alex Rodriguez Field has been stripped of its name.
With Major League Baseball's decision to suspend New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez on Monday for his connection to baseball's investigation of Biogenesis of America and performance-enhancing drugs, the Fox Cities Sports Authority has decided to relinquish the naming rights to Alex Rodriguez Field, effective immediately.
The Appleton field was named after Rodriguez in 2003.
"The Sports Authority will pay to remove the plaques referencing Rodriguez from public display," said Stan Baehman, director emeritus. "The naming rights will revert to USA Sports, the operator of the field."
The field is governed by USA Youth Sports Complex and managed by USA Youth, a nonprofit organization run by a 12-member board of directors, which represents the Appleton Soccer Club, Panther Baseball and Appleton Little League. The Fox Cities Sports Authority is a nonprofit organization that owns Fox Cities Stadium, home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
According to Matt TenHaken, president of the board for USA Youth, the signage at the field has already been taken down.
"It won't be called Alex Rodriguez Field, effective immediately," TenHaken said. "It is what it is. I really don't know if it's disappointing. Just have to accept what's happened and move forward."
Rodriguez was suspended through the end of the 2014 season for his involvement in the South Florida anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis of America. He was expected to appeal MLB's decision.
Rodriguez was the Seattle Mariners first-round draft pick in 1993 and played for the Appleton Foxes in 1994. In 65 games for the Foxes, Rodriguez hit .319 with 14 homers and 55 RBI before being promoted to Double-A Jacksonville. He made his Mariners debut at Boston on July 8, 1994.
He spent the next six seasons in Seattle before becoming a free agent and signing a 10-year, $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers, the largest contract of its kind at the time. He was traded to the New York Yankees in 2004. He later opted out of his contract and signed a new 10-year, $275 million deal with New York.
During his time in Appleton, Rodriguez was considered a model citizen and drew huge crowds to the former Goodland Field.
The Fox Cities Sports Authority named the youth field after Rodriguez as a way to honor his brief but notable stint with the Foxes, a Class A Minor League team that would later become the Timber Rattlers. When the decision to name it after Rodriguez was made, he was on his way to what was expected to be a hall of fame career.
"Of course we're disappointed," Baehman said. "You try to do something positive for the community. We're giving up the naming rights and giving it to USA Sports."
TenHaken said the board will explore naming rights options.
"We would look at previous supporters of the complex, those who supported us financially and go from there, or new organizations or businesses that would like to be recognized for their support of what we are doing out there now," TenHaken said.
"The Scheels USA Youth Sports Complex is an 80-acre complex run entirely by volunteers. We rely extensively on the support of the community with volunteer labor as well as financial support. We have one of the best complexes in the Midwest. It is critical for us going forward to receive great support from businesses organizations and individuals from the community and we've had a lot of great supporters over the years."
-- Dan Kohn: 920-993-1000, ext. 305, or firstname.lastname@example.org; On Twitter @PCDanKohn
(c)2013 The Post-Crescent (Appleton, Wis.)
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