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Syracuse Chiefs get extended commitment from Nationals

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Syracuse Chiefs get extended commitment from Nationals
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The Syracuse Chiefs future was very uncertain for a long time; hopefully it is time for a change. Time Warner Cable News Reporter Bill Carey has more on the story.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- "Anybody who thought baseball is not alive and well in Syracuse is sadly mistaken," said Bill Dutch, Syracuse Chiefs Board President.

But for some time, there have been questions about the future of the Syracuse Chiefs.

Questions based not so much on their performance as a ball club. Instead, the questions centered on how long the team could whether anemic attendance and growing deficits.

It was enough to prompt a complete overhaul of the local club, a new board of directors, a new general manager and new staff.

Now, the parent club of the team, the Washington Nationals, have stepped in to make it clear that they're not leaving. The Nationals taking the unusual step of signing a four year player development deal, twice as long as its normal agreements.

"When we heard of the new management and the new management style, and the new people that were brought in, we were very excited and anxious to sign a four year agreement," said Mike Rizzo, Washington Nationals General Manager.

Part of the formula for boosting attendance is a successful team and the new deal, the Chiefs say, will be a major help in that area.

"From a stability standpoint, from a continuity standpoint, from a baseball standpoint, it's very important to the Syracuse Chiefs because the Washington Nationals are set at the national league level. They have a very good major league roster, which bottles up the minor league so that the good players will end up in Syracuse," said Jason Smorol, Syracuse Chiefs General Manager.

All of the plans are in place now to try to prompt a turnaround for the Syracuse Chiefs. The question is whether those plans will work and how long officials have to get them to work.

"I have the full faith of the Board of Directors. They know that this did not happen overnight, to be in the situation that we're in and it's not going to be overnight getting out of this situation," said Smorol.

"We need immediate improvement. We're all conscious of that everybody, the board, the investors, our staff, we're all conscious that we need to make an immediate turn around. But I believe we can do it," said Bill Dutch, Syracuse Chiefs Board President.

There are no guarantees of a turnaround, but the Chiefs organization says it has all of the tools in place now to get the job done.

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