Photo Gallery 1 Images
Rocket City Trash Pandas President and CEO Ralph Nelson announced Wednesday that he is resigning from the organization “to pursue a new venture.”
The team’s home opener is May 11 at Toyota Field.
An official statement from the team said General Manager Garrett Fahrmann and Vice President Lindsey Knupp "will capably lead the organization. ... We look forward to continuing to play an active role in bringing joy, entertainment and pastimes for years to come in Northern Alabama."
Read Nelson's resignation letter below, the team's statement above, and learn more tonight on WAAY 31 News at 10 p.m.
Dear BallCorps Investors, Community Leaders,
Corporate Sponsors and Trash Panda Employees,
It is with great pride and a tremendous sense of accomplishment, that I share the news that I have decided it is time step aside from my role with the Rocket City Trash Pandas to pursue a new venture.
For the past several years, we have worked tirelessly to create the most state-of-the-art baseball stadium in Minor League Baseball. My passion for finding and upgrading underperforming Minor League Baseball teams came to fruition when the Mobile Bay Bears were relocated to Madison and rebranded as the Rocket City Trash Pandas. The Trash Panda brand is now known throughout the world and I am beyond proud of this unprecedented accomplishment. My singular goal has always been to bring Minor League baseball back to North Alabama and, in less than two weeks, that goal will be accomplished with the Trash Pandas Inaugural Season Opener on May 11, 2021.
That said, it is time for me to focus my energies on a new project. As a result of the work we accomplished in North Alabama, a new opportunity was presented to me in late 2019. It was the pursuit of another team and potential relocation, which will require my full attention. I began due diligence on this project while overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Trash Pandas. I was committed to ensuring the Trash Pandas were poised for success and wanted to see them through the first season. When the pandemic hit, the new opportunity was to be put on hold so I could focus my energies on keeping the Trash Pandas franchise afloat, and utilizing Toyota Field in the very best ways possible while being Covid compliant, all without the teams’ primary revenue source: professional baseball. I feel that at this time, we have accomplished all that and more. In the past months, I made a commitment to pursue this new opportunity, and with the Trash Pandas Inaugural season about to begin, my desire is to go back to the work that I love the most: building a new team and a new stadium.
As Opening Day approaches, it seems to be the right time to step down and leave the Trash Pandas in the hands of the BallCorps partners. I look forward to cheering for the Trash Pandas on Opening Day and subsequent games when my schedule allows.
I thank all of you for your support, enthusiasm, belief and trust in me. Without you, this dream would not have been realized.
City of Madison Statement:
"The City of Madison has been working closely with the Ballcorps team to ensure success for Toyota Field and the Trash Pandas. While this change in leadership comes at a critical time ahead of opening day, we are confident in the professional staff Ballcorps has assembled to lead us through the 2021 season. The City continues to work with Ballcorps to finalize the 2020 season audits as per our License agreement and has every confidence we will receive full payment once the audit is complete."
On Thursday, the city of Madison issued a second statement attributed to Mayor Paul Finley:
“The City of Madison has already received $165,738.12 from Ballcorps for the 2020 season and are in the final stages of the required audit as agreed to in the lease agreement. As confirmed from our Revenue Department, Ballcorps is current on their sales tax payments and there are no outstanding delinquencies. While the pandemic affected many businesses, the Trash Panda team successfully hosted over 175 separate community events throughout 2020 and have assured full payment to the City following the audit. Every organization is larger than one person, and our Rocket City Trash Pandas have an incredible staff ready to welcome our community into Toyota Field May 11th….. Let’s 'Play Ball!’”