Reports: Colorado Springs Franchise Moving To San Antonio
Media reports in the Colorado Springs Gazette and the San Antonio Express-News indicate a significant change in store for the Pacific Coast and Texas Leagues.
The newspapers report that officials from the Elmore Sports Group, which owns the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Brewers) and the Double-A San Antonio Missions (Padres), will meet with the San Antonio city council this week and announce its intentions to move the Triple-A franchise from Colorado to Texas.
Texas League president Tom Kayser, who this past winter announced he’d retire after the 2017 season, was mum on the subject.
“I’ve got nothing to say,” he said. “It’s speculation at this point.”
San Antonio’s mayor, Ivy Taylor, strongly hinted this week that, one way or another, Triple-A baseball is likely to come to San Antonio.
"We are also laying the groundwork for the development of a brand new Triple-A ballpark in downtown San Antonio,” Taylor told the Express-News, “with a team to play in it."
Voters in Amarillo, Texas, approved a proposed $48 million downtown ballpark in a close November vote, decided by just 820 votes. Now it seems Amarillo may be close to landing its new tenant and kicking the 2016 affiliation shuffle into high gear.
New ballparks in San Antonio and Amarillo, plus expiring player-development contracts (PDC) for affiliates in Colorado Springs, Fresno and San Antonio, make for an interesting puzzle.
Putting the pieces together, the following scenario makes the most sense if all the dominoes fall correctly:
• Colorado Springs moves to the new park in San Antonio and becomes a Rangers Triple-A affiliate. The Sky Sox’s current affiliation agreement with the Brewers expires after 2016, though the Rangers’ contract with Round Rock currently goes through 2018.
• The Double-A Missions move to the new park in Amarillo; the affiliation with the Padres expires after the 2016 season (the Padres had no comment about the reported shift)
• Triple-A Round Rock, where Nolan Ryan is part of the ownership group, switches affiliations from Rangers to Astros
• Fresno, the current Astros affiliate, comes free (its PDC expires after the ’16 season) and could be a landing spot for the Brewers.
This leaves Colorado Springs with a ballpark (although one that consistently draws some of the Pacific Coast League’s smallest crowds), but no team. The Gazette, however, theorizes that the Pioneer League’s Helena club (Rookie-level Brewers), also owned by Elmore, could move in there and fill the void.
Aside from the Double-A Missions and Triple-A Sky Sox, Elmore Sports Group also operates the high Class A Inland Empire 66ers and Bakersfield Blaze of the California League; the Eugene Emeralds of the short-season Northwest League; and the Idaho Falls Chukars and Helena Brewers of the Rookie-level Pioneer League.
Colorado Springs has been a member of the PCL since 1988, the year Security Service Field opened. It was a Rockies affiliate from 1993-2014 before the Rockies moved their affiliate to Albuquerque. San Antonio has been a member of the Double-A Texas League since 1968, and opened Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium in 1994.
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Amarillo hosted TL clubs from 1959-1982, and various independent leagues have had franchise there almost continuously since 1994. An American Association franchise has played there since 2011.