The majority owner of the Akron Racers said on Monday he is “hopeful” that professional softball games will be played at Firestone Stadium this year.

“There are a lot of things that are in negotiation as we speak, so I can’t comment [on everything], but one of the things that is still up in the air is where the team will be playing,” Craig Stout told the Beacon Journal.

“I am hopeful that we will be playing games in Akron at Firestone Stadium. I think what [minority owner] Joey [Arrietta] was trying to express [Sunday] was she didn’t know if there would be any games at Firestone, but we are working on that.”

The Beacon Journal reported on Sunday that Stout, the franchise’s majority owner, is aligning with a Chinese contingency, Arrietta is no longer the team’s general manager and the Racers will not exist in 2018.

A city spokesperson had nothing to say in response to the Racers leaving or about the future of the stadium, in which the city invested $3.5 million in 1999.

Arrietta said the majority of the players on the new team would be from China, but a few roster spots would be occupied by American players. The Racers, who started in play in 1999, have fielded teams with players from the United States and Canada, and from countries in Europe and Asia.

Stout, a Shaker Heights resident, said the new team would be comprised of mostly Chinese players and a few Americans.

He said a Chinese contingency was not going to be involved in the ownership of the team.

“I am the majority partner and she [Arrietta] is a minority partner in the entity [Fastpitch Partners, LLC] that owns the [Akron Racers] franchise,” Stout said.

Stout said the number of pro softball games that could be played at Firestone Stadium this season is “under negotiation.”

National Pro Fastpitch Commissioner Cheri Kempf was not available for comment.

Julie Walton, the NPF media coordinator, said: “The league is currently working with Craig Stout and his new team, and we are just trying to get all of our ducks in a row before we step out ahead of him. So, we are going to give him the opportunity to speak first.”

The NPF has not made an announcement about the Racers or about the Scrap Yard Dawgs, the Houston-based franchise that recently folded. The league now consists of the Chicago Bandits, the USSSA Pride in Viera Fla., the Aussie Spirit, the Beijing Shougang Eagles and the next incarnation of the Racers.

Kempf sent out a tweet Monday morning that read, “Please bear with us as we work through this very deceitful and destructive move. The league, to no avail, has taken the high road throughout what has been an extremely difficult relationship. There are a few items to get in order, but a complete statement will be forthcoming.”

It is not known at whom that tweet was directed, but Stout said he doesn’t think it was directed at him.

“I don’t know, but I do know there is an issue with another team in the league,” Stout said. “She may have been referring to that.”

Laura Winter, who pitched for the Racers last year, said in a tweet she was “heartbroken for the lack of leadership and respect during this time.” Racers outfielder A.J. Andrews and infielder Kelley Montalvo did not tweet out any thoughts on Monday.

Former Racers player Micaela Minner sent out a tweet that read: “Pretty bummed about the news of the #akronracers @AkronRacers folding. The reasoning behind it is shocking and saddening.”

Monica Abbott, a veteran pitcher in the NPF and a member of the United States National Team, took to the Internet and sent out a tweet that read: “When the longest standing team in the league @AkronRacers everyone rallies the troops for change and what is right. #makeachange stop exporting softball jobs in a #USA League. -where are the rules? Standards? And Goals? #saveamericanjobs”

Firestone Stadium will continue to host youth, high school and college events in 2018, Arrietta said. The venue regularly is home to high school games in the regular season and during the sectional, district, regional and state tournaments.

Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or mbeaven@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the #ABJVarsity high school blog at www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.