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Niagara Falls Americans logo (Submitted)
Niagara Falls Americans logo (Submitted)

New baseball plans taking shape in Niagara Falls

Fri, Dec 22nd 2023 11:30 am

By Patrick J. Bradley

Senior Contributing Writer

CAN-USA Sports and the City of Niagara Falls have reached an agreement making CAN-USA managing partner of historic Sal Maglie Stadium. The three-year agreement is effective immediately and contains a five-year renewal option.

A major component of the arrangement will be summer baseball. CAN-USA also has purchased the city’s Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League team, which played the last several seasons at the stadium as the Niagara Power. The team will be renamed the Niagara Falls Americans.

CAN-USA co-owner Robbie Nichols said the Americans will bring the excitement of summer baseball back to Niagara Falls.

“We look for big crowds and quality baseball so we have fun for all the children,” he said.

“I love to see families getting together, and there is nothing better than going to a sporting event as a family,” added Nichols’s wife and CAN-USA co-owner Nellie Nichols.

The stadium, originally Hyde Park Stadium, was rededicated last year as a tribute to Niagara Falls native and former major league pitcher Sal “The Barber” Maglie following completion of $1.4 million in upgrades that included installation of an artificial turf playing field.

“This really is a community asset,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino, who spearheaded efforts to bring CAN-USA to the city. “Sal Maglie Stadium is a huge part of this community, a beautiful stadium, and our city has a rich tradition of baseball.”

In addition to the Americans, D’Youville University and Niagara County Community College have signed to play their home games at the stadium. Plans are also in the works to host regional baseball tournaments and hold youth baseball camps and clinics there.

“We are the holder of the keys,” Robbie Nichols said. “We want to see the field used as much as possible.”

CAN-USA’s baseball pedigree includes ownership of the Elmira Pioneers and Batavia Muckdogs, both of which compete in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, or PGCBL.

Nichols and his wife first partnered with the Pioneers in 2012 and assumed full ownership in 2017. Since then, attendance at the team’s games has grown from 500 to more than 3,000 at the 4,020-seat Dunn Field.

CAN-USA Sports purchased the Batavia Muckdogs in 2021 and became managing partner of its home field, Dwyer Stadium. Muckdogs attendance has grown from 950 to more than 2,100 fans per game.

CAN-USA Sports was born in 2018 with the arrival of partner and General Manager Marc Witt, who previously worked for the National Hockey League’s Columbus Blue Jackets and was vice president of sales for Binghamton Devils of the American Hockey League.

Although league play won’t begin until June, the Americans have already begun to assemble their roster. Managing the team will be Lewiston native and former Niagara University infielder Mike Gabriele. Gabriele has been an assistant coach at Missouri Western State University and was head coach of last year’s Niagara Power.

“I’m incredibly blessed to have this opportunity,” Gabriele said.

The first player to commit to the Americans is Western Michigan University catcher Mike Huff. The North Tonawanda native attended Niagara Wheatfield High School and was a first-team Niagara Frontier League selection.

“Michael is a great foundation for our franchise,” Gabriele said. “Not only is he skilled at his position but he is a local talent, which means he wants to win for his city even more.”

Season tickets for the 2024 season are now available starting at $99. Sponsorship packages are also available. For more information, contact Witt at [email protected].

From left: New York State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, CAN-USA Sports co-owner Robbie Nichols, Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino and CAN-USA Sports General Manager Matt Witt announce the new management agreement for Sal Maglie Stadium and Can-USA's purchase of the Niagara Falls Americans baseball team. The team will begin play at the stadium next June.

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