Arkansas Travelers sold to Diamond Baseball Holdings, front office to remain in place

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – For the first time in more than 60 years, a new company owns the Arkansas Travelers.

The team announced Thursday that it had been sold to Diamond Baseball Holdings, which currently owns 33 other Minor League Baseball clubs. The team had been owned by Arkansas Travelers Baseball Inc., since 1960.

A release on the sale noted that the Travelers’ board of directors has approved the sale pending approval of shareholders and Major League Baseball.

Arkansas Travelers Baseball Inc., president Russ Meeks thanked Travs fans and the local community, adding that the company was proud of the legacy it had helped to create. Meeks went on to say that he believes the new ownership will celebrate the Natural State with the team.

“DBH has a reputation for celebrating the local identity of their clubs while supercharging the impact on the local community, and we’re eager to see the Travelers benefit from their leadership and expertise,” Meeks said.

Current Travelers CEO Rusty Meeks, the son of Russ Meeks, will remain in place, along with the rest of the existing front office staff. The younger Meeks promised to keep the fans as the focus of the club.

“Our community has always been the central focus of the Arkansas Travelers organization, and it has been an honor to work alongside my father, Russ, ensuring that sentiment is as true today as it was when our franchise was founded,” he said.

The sale of the team will likely raise questions regarding its future in North Little Rock. There is a contract between the club and city until 2026, but both sides clashed over costs of upgrades to Dickey-Stephens Park in 2022, with Mayor Terry Hartwick saying he believes the city is only liable for the field itself.

“We’re responsible for the field, without a doubt,” Hartwick told KARK 4 News in 2022. “We know we have to make some improvements to the field, but the rest of it, I can’t go against what the contract says. I can’t break that.”

Rusty Meeks said during the debate over costs that he wanted the club to remain in central Arkansas but major facility improvements were needed. He added that the rent paid by the club should be able to help fund the upgrades.

“We pay rent to the city, we have for 15 years,” Meeks said about the team and Dickey-Stephens. “We’re just asking that they update the facility just because it’s not our facility, it’s the city’s facility.”

The change in ownership will not change the club’s big-league affiliation. The Travs will continue to serve as the Double-A team for the Seattle Mariners. Jerry Dipoto, president of Baseball Operations with the Mariners, thanked the current team leadership while also noting that the organization is excited for the move.

“We are thrilled to welcome DBH as a new partner, whose depth of experience will be invaluable for the next chapter of baseball in Arkansas,” Dipoto said.

Diamond Baseball Holdings was founded in October 2021 and has grown since acquiring its first teams in December of that year. The Travelers are the first Arkansas team owned by the company, though they do have clubs in Memphis, Springfield, Missouri, Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

In a statement, Executive Chairman Pat Battle and CEO Peter Freund said the company was grateful to the previous owners as well as the North Little Rock and Little Rock communities.

“We look forward to enhancing the experience at Dickey-Stephens Park that fans already know and love, with Rusty and the entire front office staff at the helm, and deepening our connection with the greater Central Arkansas community,” the statement read.

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