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Collegiate baseball team on deck for fairgrounds return

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It looks like the Watertown Rams, formerly known as the Wizards, will end up as the only game in town during next summer’s baseball season.

The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League franchise has emerged as the only team still interested in playing at the fairgrounds next season. At a December Watertown City Council meeting, Mayor Jeffrey Graham said the city had received interest from two other baseball teams.

But another unidentified college baseball team has backed out from playing in Watertown, said Erin Gardner, the city’s parks and recreation superintendent.

A representative from a minor league baseball team in Green Bay, Wis., recently expressed interest in Watertown, but it would not be until the 2014 season, she said Friday. The North American Independent Baseball League would be looking for an owner to run the Watertown franchise, she said.

With those teams out for next season, the newly-named Rams are on deck for another season. The city and the team will start negotiating this week, Gardner said.

Team co-owner Todd Kirkey and city officials are scheduled to meet this week to discuss a return to the fairgrounds. The Rams have presented a few changes in the agreement from last season that would streamline how it pays its rental and other fees to the city, he said.

“We’re trying to hammer it out and get it done,” Kirkey said Friday. “So we’re able to move from there.”

Gardner hopes to present an agreement to the Watertown City Council with a tentative agreement at the Jan. 22 meeting.

Gardner and Kirkey have been exchanging recent emails with each other. They also met briefly in November to discuss the situation. The Rams had asked for a multi-season deal, but the city was only interested in a single season agreement, she said, citing the team failing to pay all of its bills on time at the end of last season.

The team has already gone through some notable changes during its offseason, including shedding its traditional nickname and purple and gold colors.

The name change is tied to a sponsorship agreement with local car dealer FX Caprara of Watertown. The team will also field a new coaching staff. The Watertown Rams will don black and silver uniform colors with the Dodge Ram symbol as the team logo, as part of the partnership agreement with the car dealer.

The Watertown franchise, which went 18-27 last season, finishing seventh of nine teams, hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007 when it competed in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. The Wizards attracted 11,186 people in 22 home games for an average turnout of 508 per game.

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