On May 6, Frank Boulton, Founder/CEO/Owner, Long Island Ducks, was the guest speaker at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting at Fairfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip. During the presentation, he talked about the formation of the Ducks and the league in which it plays, the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.
Before becoming involved as a baseball team owner, he worked for the financial firms Smith Barney and UBS Securities. In the mid-1980s, he bought the New York Yankees’ minor-league Class-A team in Prince William County, Va., and the Class-AA Albany Colonie Yankees.
During the Major League Baseball strike in 1994, he went down to Homestead, Florida to look at some prospects. “I came up with the idea of a boutique league with 200 of the best unsigned players,” Mr. Boulton said. “That’s how the Atlantic League came about.”
In 1993, Bud Harrelson, who played and managed with the New York Mets, teamed up with Mr. Boulton to form the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Then, from 1997 to 2000, the duo worked tirelessly to bring the Long Island Ducks to life.
Since its formation, the team has won nine divisional titles and been in the playoffs for 15 of the last 17 years. This year’s 27-man roster consists of eleven former MLB players and eight other players with AAA experience. Mr. Boulton said he wants to keep the Ducks as a local team, with local players on the roster. “If they are from Long Island, they’ll get the call,” he said.
One of the disadvantages of owning a minor league baseball team, Mr. Boulton said, is that the roster can change in an instant when a major-league team wants to buy a player’s contract. This past season, eleven Ducks players had their contracts purchased. He said it could happen the night of a game, and the starting pitcher could get the call.
The team plays 132 games in 2022 over 150 days; 66 of them are home games. The ballpark seats 6,002 people, with 20 luxury boxes, a picnic area that can hold up to 300 people, a party deck and a restaurant that seats 125 people. Since its inception, the team has welcomed nearly 8.5 million people to its games, many of whom are repeat fans. Funding for the stadium came from $22.5 million in federal funds, $14.5 million from the Empire State Development Corporation, $5 million from Suffolk County and $3.5 million from Mr. Boulton himself.
Mr. Boulton added that the revenue generated by the Ducks comes from ticket sales (single-game, season and mini-game packages), food and beverage sales. He said that group ticket sales are “a big part of our business.” Further, the Ducks are the only team in the Atlantic League that doesn’t charge its patrons for parking.
In addition to serving as the team’s Founder, CEO and Owner, Mr. Boulton is Chairman of the QuackerJack Foundation, the charitable arm of the Ducks. He is a member of the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame, the Bay Shore High School Hall of Fame, and the Long Island Business Hall of Fame. He has received numerous honors from many business and nonprofit organizations. He is a graduate of Villanova University and a resident of Brightwaters.
For more information about upcoming LIMBA programs, visit https://limba.net.
Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.