In announcing the team would buy a new humidor for Security Service Field, Colorado Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd expressed frustration with the playing conditions in Colorado Springs. Could a new affiliation come down the road?
There’s no doubt the conditions are a little rough at the home of the Colorado Spring Sky Sox (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). The altitude is higher (6,531 feet above sea level) than the mile-high location of Coors Field, bad weather frequently impacts play and workouts in April and May, and the location of the ballpark — at one of the highest parts of the city — practically invites a lot of windy weather. To help address this, O’Dowd announced the team would be buying a humidor for the Sky Sox to mimic the pitching conditions in Denver.
From O’Dowd’s viewpoint, says the Colorado Springs Independent, there are two solutions: move the team’s Triple-A affiliation or hint the team would like to see a new ballpark. There’s been talk of a new downtown Colorado Springs ballpark for years, even after team owner Dave Elmore spent millions upgrading the facility; it came up in the most recent mayoral election. The Rockies aren’t really in a position to demand a new ballpark — MLB teams are loathe to make many direct demands for an affiliate’s facilities because the first response from locals is how much the MLB team is willing contribute (the answer: zero). The second solution, moving the affiliation, may not be politically popular in a good-sized city just an hour away from Coors Field.
Now, there’s no chance of Colorado Springs losing Triple-A baseball, at least in the near future: the franchise is guaranteed a parent, so if the Rockies pull out, another MLB team would come in. But losing the Rockies would surely impact the Sky Sox’s bottom line on some level and make the city less attractive in the long term as a Triple-A market.
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