Former Dayton City Commissioner Tony Capizzi first mentioned the possibility of Dayton’s own field of dreams in the early 1990s. That proposal eventually led to the news in February 1999 that Mandalay Sports Entertainment had bought the Class A Rockford affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, and was moving the team to Dayton.
Capizzi’s quest to bring minor league baseball to downtown Dayton didn’t really take off until 1997, when Chicago-area investor Sherrie Meyers had plans to buy the Rockford team and move it to Dayton. But she and her husband owned another team in Rockford’s Midwest League (the Lansing Lugnuts), so she was blocked from completing the sale.
Besides Meyers’ efforts, boxing promoter Rock Newman and his Sports Spectrum group also attempted to land a team in Dayton. But Newman was also denied.
Then Mandalay, with principal investor Hank Stickney, stepped to the plate, and Dayton’s dreams of baseball came closer to reality.
Mandalay Sports Entertainment won approval by Major League Baseball in late February 1999. With that came the announcement that a new $22.7 million stadium would be built downtown, and the Rockford Cubbies would become the Rockford Reds for 1999 before moving to Dayton in 2000.