Business group buys Perth Heat
Perth’s semi-professional baseball team, Perth Heat, has been purchased by a private consortium that is led by business executive Rory Vassallo and includes Eileen ‘Red’ Bond and broadcaster Christian Galapolous.
The club will be chaired by Mr Vassallo, who made a small fortune when he sold a portfolio of child care centres in 2014 for $65 million.
Perth Heat competes in the Australian Baseball League (ABL), which this year will become an international competition with teams from South Korea and New Zealand.
ABL teams in other cities have also been privatised by the Australian Baseball Federation, with the most notable deal being Adelaide Football Club, which owns the Crows AFL team, purchasing South Australia’s Adelaide Bite in June.
Mr Vassallo, who is a director of South Fremantle Football Club, said baseball had been largely undervalued in WA and nationally.
“We are backed by an incredible wealth of talented individuals and we’re looking forward to recruiting specific skillset directors to join the board over time to ensure a well governed and led Perth Heat,” he said.
The full membership of his consortium was not disclosed but the surprise name was Eileen Bond, who is best known as the former wife of the late entrepreneur Alan Bond.
This is not the first time Perth Heat has been privately owned; it was purchased in the late 1980s by former stockbroker and now company director Brettney Fogarty.
The new ownership group was brokered by long standing club patron Marty Parn.
“My involvement with the Perth Heat spans more than past 25 years, and it’s been a wonderful experience with the players, staff and volunteers,” Mr Parn said.
“With this new franchise and ownership team that offer so much commercial expertise, I believe we will be a very strong and competitive force.”
Perth Heat has taken out the ABL’s Claxton Shield championship 15 times, making it one of the most successful teams in the league.
The team will retain its close association with Baseball WA with BWA chief executive Lachlan Dale and Perth Heat manager Andy Kyle managing on-field operations.
The club has also reached an agreement to hold all its home games at the Perth Harley-Davidson Ballpark in Thornlie.
Mr Vassallo said he looked forward to partnering with Baseball WA and expected to see other similar commercial arrangements in the future.
“The partnership will leverage our commercial expertise and the knowledge of Andy and Lachlan, while we are pleased to continue our association with Alcohol. Think Again as the club’s naming sponsor,” he said.
“We hope to bolster both on and off-field resources to get back into championship contention in the coming season.”
He added that the new ownership group was planning to work with the club to introduce new initiatives to enhance the game-day experience for spectators.
“Baseball is a great summer sport played under lights in a family fun atmosphere, we are confident that the revamp of the ABL competition will lead to much stronger support and greater commercial success.”