Two months after the sale of the Portland Sea Dogs was announced, the transaction became official Tuesday. With that, former owners Bill Burke and his sister, Sally McNamara, offered a financial thank you to the ballclub’s full-time employees.

The pair shared profits from the sale to Diamond Baseball Holdings with the team’s 18 full-time employees.

“Our success was driven by our amazing staff, and we wanted to thank them,” said Bill Burke, who served as the Sea Dogs chairman.

Burke said he and McNamara decided when the sale of the team was announced in December they would share profits with the full-time employees once it became official.

Sea Dogs President and General Manager Geoff Iacuessa said the bonuses came as a surprise.

“They’ve always done the right thing,” said Iacuessa, who has been with the franchise for 22 years. “It’s certainly a meaningful gesture to all of us.”


Employees received a bonus based on the length of time they’ve been employed by the team. Some just joined the Sea Dogs last year, while others had been with the team since 1994, the team’s inaugural season. Burke declined to go into details on the amounts given to the employees.

Chris Cameron, the Sea Dogs vice president for communications and fan experience, is entering his 27th season with the team. Cameron began as a part-time seasonal employee in 1996, and was hired full-time in January 1999 as the team’s ticket office manager. Cameron said he had heard of another team, the Iowa Cubs, do something similar when it was sold in 2021, so when he was told the Burke and McNamara wanted to meet with full-time staff Tuesday morning, he had an idea what was coming.

“Part of me just knew, but certainly it was never expected,” Cameron said. “The Burkes were the best owners in baseball. They went above and beyond to show how they appreciated all the employees, whether you were the team president like Geoff, or the guy cleaning the stadium.”

When the minor league baseball season was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, Burke and McNamara continued to pay 19 full-time staff members, as well as seasonal game-day employees, despite losing the revenue that comes with game-day sales.

“That commitment to the staff is just beyond heard of,” Cameron said.

The Sea Dogs had been owned by the Burke family from the start, since Bill Burke’s father, Dan, successfully applied for an Eastern League expansion franchise in 1992. Bill became the team’s chairman in 2007 when the health of his father declined. Dan Burke died in 2011 at age 82. The team remained a family-run operation, with McNamara serving as the treasurer.


The team began as the Double-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins before becoming the Double-A club of the Boston Red Sox in the 2003 season. The affiliation with the Red Sox will continue at least through 2030.

The Sea Dogs new owners, Diamond Baseball Holdings, came onto the team ownership scene in late 2021, as a subsidiary of the entertainment conglomerate Endeavor. Within weeks, Diamond Baseball Holdings became the largest operator of minor league teams, buying 10 ballclubs, including three Triple-A franchises: Iowa Cubs (Chicago Cubs), Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals), and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders (New York Yankees). Along with the Sea Dogs last December, Diamond Baseball Holdings purchased two other Double-A teams, the Wichita Wind Surge (Minnesota Twins) and Midland RockHounds (Oakland Athletics).

Last summer, the Major League Baseball Players Association raised concerns that Endeavor’s ownership of teams was a conflict of interest, given agents working for Endeavor also represent players. When the MLBPA threatened to decertify Endeavor agents, the publicly traded company sold Diamond Baseball Holdings to Silver Lake Partners, a private equity firm, in September.

Shortly after the sale of the Sea Dogs was announced in December, Diamond Baseball Holdings CEO Peter Freund said fans visiting Hadlock Field this summer will not see sweeping changes. The existing team management is staying in place, Iacuessa said, and ticket prices are remaining the same.

“We are operating from a hyper-local perspective,” Freund told the Press Herald in December. “The Portland Sea Dogs are one of the most successful minor league baseball teams in America and you don’t try to fix what’s not broken. Diamond Baseball’s interest is not to come in, raise prices, change the fan experience and somehow corporatize the Portland Sea Dogs.”

The Sea Dogs are coming off a season in which the team made the Eastern League playoffs for the first time since 2014. In 2022, average attendance at Hadlock Field (5,744) ranked third in Double-A and was the highest at the ballpark since 2010. The Sea Dogs were one of only 19 minor league teams that saw increased attendance over pre-pandemic levels, a factor that played into their being honored by Baseball America with the Double-A Bob Freitas Award for demonstrating long-term success and sustained excellence in the business of minor league baseball. The team also won the award in 1999.

The 2023 season is scheduled to begin at Hadlock Field on April 6 against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.

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