Affiliated Baseball and El Paso…The Sequel
Here we go again. Over the last month, some new developments have once again made El Paso a possible destination for a Triple-A baseball affiliation. Late last month, the California Supreme Court ruled not to overturn the Legislature's decision to abolish redevelopment agencies. As a result, many of the new proposed stadiums in different parts of California will not have the funding they needed to proceed. That included the new proposed $50 million stadium in Escondido for the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. That project was relying on redevelopment funds that the state legislature took away. Without the new stadium, the Padres' Triple-A affiliate, currently playing in Tucson, will most likely be sold.
The Tucson Padres are owned by a group including Jeff Moorad, who is also part of the Padres' ownership team. Moorad's master plan was to move the team from Tucson to Escondido, California, only 30 miles away from San Diego. With that dream shattered, Moorad will quickly turn to Plan B and sell the team before the start of the 2012 regular season. El Paso is once again a major player in the discussions to acquire the club, and has already contacted Moorad according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
In order for affiliated baseball to return to El Paso, a new stadium will need to be built downtown. There is already a spot designated for a possible ballpark (by the historic Union Depot Passenger Station). The new facility could be constructed adjacent to the building like the famous warehouse next to Camden Yards in Baltimore. Time is also a major issue, because El Paso would need to get the sale finalized within the next two months. That means they would not have enough time to put a new ballpark on a November bond for a vote. Thus, funding for the downtown stadium would most likely have to come from the private sector, or from some other available source.
Currently, Vancouver and Boise are the only other known cities reportedly interested in the Triple-A franchise. Both cities already have lower Minor League baseball teams, and might not be prepared to offer the proper package to purchase the team from Moorad's group. The El Paso group needs to act fast, but if they get a fair offer and new downtown ballpark as part of the package, we could see affiliated baseball return to the Sun City in time for the 2014 or 2015 season.