Could Affiliated Minor League Baseball Return to El Paso?
It looks like El Paso could be back in the conversation regarding a return of affiliated Minor League Baseball. In yesterday's San Diego Union Tribune article, reporters Bill Center and Michelle Breier reported that Padres CEO Jeff Moorad will sell his team's Triple-A franchise if a new ballpark is not built in Escondido, Califiornia. Last year, Moorad beat out an El Paso ownership group and purchased the Padres Triple-A franchise from Portland Beavers owner Merritt Paulson. The team has played the 2011 season in Tucson, Arizona while waiting for a new stadium to be built in Escondido. The 9,000 seat ballpark would be a short drive from San Diego, and would be a huge convenience to the Padres franchise. However, Center told me this afternoon that there is less than a 25% chance that the ballpark gets built in Escondido, increasing the chances the team gets sold after the Pacific Coast League season ends on September 6th.
Should Moorad look to sell his Triple-A affiliate, El Paso will be a strong candidate to purchase the team from him. Another ownership group in San Antonio could make a strong push for the Triple-A team. Currently, the Missions play in the Texas League and are the Padres Double-A affiliate. It is conceivable that both San Antonio and El Paso become the Double and Triple-A affiliates of the Padres.
If El Paso purchases either the Pacific Coast League or Texas League team, they would either have to renovate Cohen Stadium or build a new downtown ballpark. The El Paso business group interested in buying the team might prefer a new downtown ballpark, because it would help revitalize the area. Places like Reno, Nevada have thrived with their new downtown ballpark, which is now the city's new entertainment hub.