Anonymous benefactor of Mystic Schooners comes forth as owner

Groton - Up until Tuesday, he was the anonymous benefactor who donated $500,000 to upgrade the Robert E. Fitch High School baseball field and attract the Mystic Schooners baseball team.

The Town Council ended the mystery Tuesday and revealed the benefactor to be Thomas Marra, a baseball lover and Mystic homeowner.

Marra is not only the new owner of the Schooners but also the president of the Bristol Collegiate Baseball Club, part of the 10-team nonprofit New England Collegiate Baseball League.

Marra's name was released Tuesday as part of the new 20-year agreement unanimously approved by the council between the town, Board of Education and baseball club. The agreement permits the use of the Fitch baseball field for the 21-game summer baseball season between June and August.

Groton Mayor Heather Somers said the council had worked for a long time with the town attorney to hammer out an agreement and put behind them the controversy that arose when the town was forced to pick up the $144,000 in cost overruns for field improvements.

While the team was responsible for the cost of the field improvements, the project was overseen by the school district under Superintendent Paul Kadri, who is now on paid administrative leave for unrelated reasons. The town initially agreed to the deal with the Schooners on the condition that upgrades be made "at no cost to the town."

Somers said the town, which had initially argued that the league was responsible for the cost overruns, has agreed to absorb the bill as part of the new agreement.

She said Marra has expressed his desire to boost attendance and hire full-time marketing personnel to achieve that goal.

"We feel as a council this is a very positive step," Somers said. "After talking to (Marra), it's clear he has a well thought-out plan."

The agreement also stipulates the formation of a baseball advisory committee with two representatives each from the town, the league and school board.

Marra was not present at Tuesday's meeting.

g.smith@theday.com

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