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Updated: December 7, 2022

After 28 years, Portland Sea Dogs franchise sold by founding family

Baseball player diving on the field Photo / Jim Neuger Diamond Baseball Holdings will be the new owner of the Portland Sea Dogs by the end of this year. Shown here is Sea Dogs shortstop David Hamilton diving for home plate in a game at Hadlock Field this past season against the Erie (Pa.) SeaWolves.

After 28 years under family ownership, the Portland Sea Dogs are being sold to a year-old company that owns several other minor-league baseball teams.

Under an agreement announced Tuesday, ownership will transfer to Diamond Baseball Holdings, while the Portland Sea Dogs will continue to be managed by the current staff led by President and General Manager Geoff Iacuessa.

The team, founded by Dan Burke in 1994 and later taken over by two of his children, Bill Burke and Sally McNamara, will also remain the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Diamond Baseball Holdings will have 100% ownership of the team in a transaction expected to be closed by the end of the year, subject to standard consents and closing conditions.

Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed.

The deal follows the Sea Dogs' best-ever season in 2022, and on the day the team was honored as the nation's top Double-A franchise by Baseball America, the sport's premier publication.

Greg Glynn, an athlete branding advisor and CEO of Pliable Marketing in Augusta, told Mainebiz he doesn't expect to see major changes with the Sea Dogs after the team changes hands.

"If anything, the new ownership group recognized the opportunity to build and invest in what is already one of the best franchises in minor league sports," Glynn said.

DBH's 'deep experience'

Bill Burke, chairman of the Portland Sea Dogs, said the time is right for the founding family to move on.

"We are very pleased to have found in DBH an ownership team with deep experience in minor league baseball and strong commitments to Portland, the Red Sox and most, importantly, Geoff Iacuessa and his remarkable front office staff," Bill Burke said in Tuesday's announcement. "Going forward, the Sea Dogs will have the resources in place to take the franchise to new heights for the greatest fans in minor league sports."

McNamara said she and her brother are confident that the Sea Dogs staff, along with the new owners, "will carry on our father's vision and commitment to bringing high-quality professional baseball and family-entertainment to Portland."

Diamond Baseball Holdings, formed in December 2021, has a growing portfolio of minor league teams across the United States that includes Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A affiliates.

"We are grateful to Bill Burke and Sandy McNamara for entrusting us with the incredible club they've built and for believing in our mission to enrich local communities around the country through minor league baseball," said Peter Freund, CEO of Diamond Baseball Holdings.

Diamond Baseball Holdings will seek to further the team's growth and innovation through investments in technology across ticketing, customer data and marketing, concessions and other areas, according to Tuesday's announcement.

Sea Dogs staff 'will remain intact'

The Portland Sea Dogs has 17 full-time staff members and around around 250 part-time seasonal employees.

"Our staff will remain intact and there will be no changes to the fan experience at Hadlock Field," Chris Cameron, the team's vice president for communications and fan experience, told Mainebiz. "It will be business as usual, with Slugger continuing to lead the charge in entertaining our fans."

In a LinkedIn post, Cameron expressed gratitude to the Burke family for bringing professional baseball back to Maine, saying the family treated the staff exceptionally well and enhanced the community.

He also remarked that he's looking forward to the next chapter with Diamond Baseball Holdings, who, he said, is committed to the team and city.

"I'm confident with their resources the Sea Dogs will continue to grow and thrive in Portland," he said.

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