NYCBL Nitros could be on the move in 2020, meeting planned for Aug. 22

DANSVILLE — After a one-year hiatus, the Nitros franchise could be back on the diamond in 2020 — in Dansville.

Steve Ackley, owner of Wellsville’s former New York Collegiate Baseball League (NYCBL) franchise, is in the process of moving the team north to Livingston County. The Nitros went on a one-year leave of absence in 2019 as Ackley assessed options to keep the franchise going following its departure from the Wellsville market.

He may have found a new home in Dansville, which has embraced the prospect of summer baseball.

“We’ve got a lot of great people working on this,” Ackley told The Spectator.

An informational meeting for the public will be held at the Dansville Town Hall on Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. to acquaint local citizens with the team and how it operates. NYCBL franchises rely on host families welcoming college players for a few months in the summer. The players come to the NYCBL from all over the country seeking to improve their skills over the course of the 42-game schedule. Many have big league dreams and the NYCBL has produced a number of major leaguers over the years.

A sign-up sheet for residents interested in becoming a host family or volunteering in other capacities will be available at the Aug. 22 meeting. Ackley and NYCBL officials will speak at the town hall. Ackley said the baseball field in Babcock Park will likely receive some upgrades, such as an outfield fence and netting to catch foul balls.

Ackley said the team has received some strong support from key individuals in the Dansville area, such as Jon Shay, and he’s met with the Livingston County Chamber of Commerce as well.

Nearby Cohocton hosted an NYCBL franchise for about a dozen years and Hornell has featured the Dodgers at Maple City Park for over two decades. Ackley said he’s excited about a potential Route 36 rivalry between Hornell and Dansville, and he’s received encouraging feedback from fellow NYCBL owners.

“It’s a whole lot easier traveling to Dansville than Wellsville,” he said, noting the proximity to I-390.

The Nitros were founded in Wellsville in 1998 by John Rigas, the former owner of the Buffalo Sabres and Adelphia Cable. Dan Russo assumed ownership of the franchise from 2003-2010 before Ackley took over. The team spent several years playing in Scio as the Allegany County Nitros before returning to Wellsville.

Ackley previously cited dwindling attendance and volunteer support when he made the decision to close the Wellsville operation.

The NYCBL featured 10 franchises in 2019, with the Western Division consisting of Hornell, Niagara, Olean, Mansfield and Genesee (Houghton). For more information on the league, visit www.nycbl.com