As Boise discusses a new downtown ballpark, the Chicago Cubs became a player in the ballpark debate by proclaiming the team would walk away from Idaho if a new facility isn't in the works by September.
During a public forum last week Bill Buckner, a resident of Boise now working for the Cubs, said his employer would drop its affiliation with the Boise Hawks (short season A; Northwest League) unless progress was made on a new ballpark when the team's current PDC ends this September. Memorial Stadium, in its present form, just isn't going to cut it for the Cubs.
Now, it's usually considered bad form for Major League parents to directly involve themselves in discussions of new ballparks for their affiliates, past general statements of encouragement or specific objections to certain aspects of a current facility. For instance, the Washington Nationals played by the rules recently in pointing out problems with Municipal Stadium, home of the Hagerstown Suns (Low Class A; Sally League), saying that the field and clubhouse conditions must be addressed. Now, owner Bruce Quinn used the Nats' communication as a reason to move the team (or maneuver for a new Hagerstown ballpark), but there was no explicit threat by the Nats to yank the affiliation.
The reason for this distance is clear: when you start demanding a new ballpark, the locals expect you to chip in for that ballpark. Now, we know there's literally no chance the Cubs will contribute at all toward a new Boise ballpark. MLB has a nice little gig going when it comes to MiLB affiliates: local communities build ballparks as training grounds for their players at no cost to the major-league affiliate. We don't see that changing.
And discussions of a new Boise ballpark are very much in flux: there is still an effort to bring Triple-A baseball to the city, an effort that will surely shape whatever form a new ballpark will take. It's no secret the Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) are on the market; the only issue is where the team ends up in two years. (Closed-circuit to Tucson fans: no matter who buys the team, it looks like Kino Stadium will be its home until a new ballpark can be built in a destination city.)
Rendering courtesy of the Better Boise Coalition.
RELATED STORIES: Hawks GM: Boise can't support Triple-A ball; Boise still in the crosshairs of PCL?; Ricketts: Boise's Memorial Stadium is substandard; Boise as Triple-A market? There's talk; Boise ballpark search to focus on downtown sites; Boise in search of new ballpark site; Memorial Stadium / Boise Hawks
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