New Britain is about to be without professional baseball for the first time since 1982. The New Britain Bees announced Monday that they’re going from the Atlantic League, an independent professional league, to a collegiate summer baseball league called the Futures League, or FCBL.
The Bees replaced the Rock Cats when the Double-A Minor League Baseball team moved to Hartford after the 2015 season.
They hung around a pro circuit called the Atlantic League for a few years, but now they’ll go to a league that features college baseball players who are generally freshman and sophomores.
Brad Smith, the Bees general manager, said the idea of playing a schedule with fewer games was attractive because it doesn’t require the kind of resources that playing in the Atlantic League did. The Bees will go from playing 70 home games to 28.
“It is collegiate baseball players, but the league itself runs on a minor league business model, so we still will have fireworks, we’ll have great baseball, we’ll have all sorts of promotions," Smith said. "It just gives us a better chance at success in the New Britain-Central Connecticut market.”
The New Britain Red Sox were the first professional baseball team to play in the Hardware City back in 1983.
After the team was no longer affiliated with the Boston Red Sox, the Rock Cats debuted in the 1995 season. The Rock Cats played at New Britain Stadium for 20 years.
The Bees will continue to play at New Britain Stadium – but the team's lease with the city is up for renewal at the end of the season. Smith hopes that the move will lead to a new deal.