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Ballpark Figures : Sports: Between them, Hank and Ken Stickney of Orange County own three minor-league teams. They've done well at it, but it's clearly a labor of love for the 'ultimate baseball family.'

October 20, 1992|BRAD BONHALL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Next season, the San Bernardino team will move to a new $7.5-million stadium in Rancho Cucamonga and be known as the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. A record 800 season tickets have already been sold, many of them to loyal fans from San Bernardino, Hank said.

The Stickneys' recent purchase of the Las Vegas Stars gives them three minor-league teams within an hour's flying time of Southern California.

The Las Vegas organization, according to Englebreckt, is the "crown jewel of Triple-A baseball. The stadium has all the creature comforts. Las Vegas is one of the fastest-growing areas in the country, and it has no other competition" from other ballparks.

Although a full-time general manager will run the day-to-day operations, Hank will set overall policy and "watch where the money goes" while Ken works on strategies to boost attendance.

One of the Stickneys' immediate goals is to contact convention organizers and persuade them to encourage their attendees to spend an evening at the ballpark.

"Each week in Vegas there are 12 to 18 conventions with over 5,000 people," Ken said. "Say they schedule a four- or five-day convention. Instead of gambling or going to shows every night, they can buy a $15 ticket that will give them admission, two hot dogs, beers and transportation to the ballpark."

Because the Stickney family is so close, it is perhaps no coincidence that Hank and Ken work right across a parking lot from each other.

"We talk at least once a day," Ken said. "We share promotional ideas and information daily. We like each other and have fun."

Said Dee, who should know: "Baseball people have more fun than normal people. They're fun people. And," she added, with surprising seriousness, "it's a good thing we love hot dogs and popcorn."

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