English returns with Rox
NASHUA – A familiar face has been hanging out at Holman Stadium from time to time.
But, unlike the days when he was the owner of the area’s professional baseball team, former Nashua Pride money man Chris English is now, well, the enemy.
Just two years ago English was at Holman when the Nashua Silver Knights honored the Nashua Pride as part of the stadium’s 75 year birthday celebration.
A few months later, after what was an extended time studying the league, he bought the FCBL’s Brockton Rox. Brockton currently is 18-13, second in the East Division, three games ahead of fourth place Nashua.
"I’m pretty impressed with how far it’s come," English said of the FCBL. "It’s pretty ambitious. You start with four teams, and just try to build it in a hotbed of college baseball.
"So I was watching. I was kind of watching from the sidelines. I knew Chris Hall from the Pride, he’s very ambitious. I looked at the ownership groups, they’re all people involved in professional teams, affiliated teams, independent league teams, and I watched a couple of games."
Then English examined what was going on in Brockton. The team’s ownership was struggling. But there was a stable, smart city government in his mind, some developments downtown, and the facility, Campanelli Stadium, was magnificent but needed upgrades after some recent neglect. English’s group put a half a million dollars into it, redoing the field and revamping the luxury suites.
There were other attractive factors. Included in the franchise was the small adjacent convention center called the Shaw Center. Also, there’s plans for a possible casino in the vicinity.
"If we locked up that piece of real estate," English said, "then we felt we could make something of it."
The operating budget is $500,000 for the Rox in the FCBL, not the $3 million it was in independent league baseball, which is the same business theory that makes Nashua a success after all the indy league financial struggles that English, and other Pride owners, endured. Plus, as he said, his group has made something of the real estate. They hosted the MIAA Super Eight high school baseball tourney. They also had a Brazilian concert, and made more in concessions that one night than they did all last season.
And, as English said, he went to local businesses who wanted to keep baseball in Brockton in some shape or form and said, "We’re you’re last shot. And they responded."
That, he says, was the business side. The fun side? He’s back in baseball. English does all the player procurement for the Rox, which for him has to be heaven.
"You know me," he said. "I love it. I’m having a blast. I get to talk (to college coaches)."