AVON — The Frontier League franchise formerly known as the Slippery Rock Sliders, Midwest Sliders and the Oakland County Cruisers was supposed to finally have found some stability this season in Canada, rechristening itself the London Rippers.
However, that changed Monday when London (Ontario) city officials foreclosed on the franchise and locked it out of
135-year-old Labatt Memorial Park — leaving the team without a home and its players without uniforms.
The Frontier League announced Tuesday that it was assuming control of the fledgling franchise and it had come to an agreement with the Lake Erie Crushers to make Avon’s All Pro Freight Stadium the Rippers’ home for the rest of the season.
A member of the Crushers front office confirmed the moves exclusively to The Chronicle-Telegram on Monday. The team will release an official press release today.
The Crushers were supposed to travel to London today for a three-game series with the Rippers, but the series will be played at All Pro Freight Stadium, starting with a seven-inning doubleheader Thursday, beginning at 4 p.m., and a game Friday night at 7:05.
The Crushers will be the home team for the three games, and the Rippers will now play as the Road Warriors and have new uniforms to match, according to Crushers general manager Daniel Helm.
The Road Warriors are 24-34 and sixth in the seven-team East Division, while the Crushers are 32-27 and third in the division.
The Road Warriors will be headquartered at the Holiday Inn in Westlake, which is the hotel the Frontier League uses to house the Crushers’ visiting opponents.
Helm, who confirmed the report Tuesday, did not know how many Road Warriors “home” games will be played at All Pro Freight Stadium this year. The Crushers schedule will not change, other than the upcoming series with the Rippers.
The first Road Warriors home games at The Freight could be Aug. 3-5 against Florence — the Crushers will be at Washington that weekend.
Helm said discounted tickets of $1 per seat will be available for the Thursday and Friday games. Ticket plans for Road Warriors home games played in Avon have not been disclosed.
The Rippers were already on tenuous ground in London this year, starting with their controversial “Jack the Ripper” mascot that London officials and some women’s groups spoke out against.
Other Frontier League teams complained about the headaches and hassles due to the government restrictions that come with crossing the Canadian border. The Crushers had to leave behind three players the one series they played in London because of visa and passport issues.
The Rippers were last in the 14-team Frontier League in home attendance, only drawing 21,985 fans to 26 home games — an average of 846 per game. The Washington Wild Things are the second-worst in attendance with an average of 1,553.
The Rippers franchise began in 2007 as the Slippery Rock (Pa.) Sliders, played all road games in 2008 and moved to Ypsilanti, Mich., in 2009 to become the Midwest Sliders. The franchise moved to Waterford Township, Mich., for the 2010 season as the Oakland County Cruisers with the promise of a new stadium. However, the stadium was never built and the franchise was suspended by the league for the 2011 season.
This was the Frontier League’s second attempt at a Canadian team. The London Werewolves played at Labatt Memorial Park from 1999-2001, winning the 1999 Frontier League championship, before moving to Canton in 2002.
It is unknown what the league will do with the franchise for the 2013 season and beyond.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or email@example.com.