NEWARK - The Newark Bears are going out of business, but the city and Essex County are still on the hook for their stadium, which they'll be paying for until 2029.
Kean University and Rutgers Newark will play at Riverfront Stadium this month, but the Newark Bears are out. They are auctioning everything, including team apparel, and landscaping equipment.
Team owner Danielle Dronet says operations losses were in the millions. She says friction with the city and the county will make it impossible for the Bears to field a team this year.
"They were never on the same page," Dronet says. "I'm not sure if they actually wanted to continue baseball. Pro baseball anyway."
Owners say they spent $6 million of their own money in operations costs, including $650,000 for a new scoreboard to replace the one that was damaged during Superstorm Sandy.
Dronet became the owner before the 2011 season and had goals of bringing in crowds of 2,000 people. Attendance at recent games was usually only a few hundred.
Residents have their own theories as to where the team went wrong. Frank McCree says there appeared to be a lack of advertising. "Poor ownership, most people thought the Bears were out of business," he says.
A city spokesperson says, "We will work with the county, our partners in the business and sports communities, and local colleges and universities to make full use of Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium."
Meanwhile, Essex County and Newark both must pay $1.1 million annually for the next 15 years to pay off the cost of construction, a total of $33 million for a stadium that will now sit empty.
The liquidation auction is set for Saturday, April 26 at 10 a.m. at Riverfront Stadium.