Players don’t come to the Continental Baseball League for the glory. And they definitely don’t come for the money. When someone does sign a CBL contract, they do it for the love of the game.

Still, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be paid and respected. So when payroll issues continued to be in a state of flux for the players for the McKinney Blue Thunder this summer, they felt the need to take a stand. And they did, opting to boycott one game against the Bay Area Toros in mid-July.

“There was an issue with the payroll,” Blue Thunder general manager Alan Burt, who is also in charge of the team payroll, said. “Over a period of time there were some accumulations of fees with the check cashing. The money that [team owner Larry Faulkner] had put in the account for the payroll ran out.

“The players wanted to make a statement that they didn’t feel that was appropriate.”

While the refusal to play lasted only one day, it could have been the beginning of the end for McKinney’s first professional franchise, especially considering the team boasts the worst record in the four-team CBL and figures to be the only team that will miss the playoffs.

But with only six games left on the schedule, Burt feels strongly the Blue Thunder will be back well beyond this week’s final home series against Bay Area.

“We’re planning on being back,” Burt said. “We believe this has the chance to be very good. The way our financial structure is set up, we can have success,” he said, “when we put people in the stands.”

While some of the league’s teams sold as many as 600 season tickets before the first game, the Blue Thunder have struggled to 600 fans in some 10-game spans.

“I still think there is a large part of the community, just residents, that still don’t know where here. We have been, and [assistant general manger and director of sales and marketing] Matt McDermott especially, to every chamber meeting; we’ve walked the streets,” Burt said. “But that was all businesses, and we didn’t get into residential as well as we should have been.

“We just haven’t gotten the word out well enough.”

Other issues Burt cited as reasons for a lack of attendance include, despite $6 adult single-game ticket prices, the overall economy, and the team’s late move to McKinney in February 2008.

“People today are more of a wait and see type. We’re not the Chicago Cubs where it doesn’t make a bit of difference how good you are,” Burt said. “We’re a bandwagon thing. You look at the [McKinney] Marshals, and [their attendance] has been increasing over the past three and four years.

“We’re hoping it’s going to be the same for us.”

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