After a messy dispute over control of the ballpark lease and the team, the independent American Association announced that the Laredo Lemurs will be replaced by the Salina Stockade in the 2017 league lineup.
Basically, the three owners of the Lemurs via Laredo Baseball Holdings — Arianna Torres, Marcus Holliman and Saul Villarreal — were involved in a legal battle for the team, with Torres suing Holliman and Villarreal (who controlled 20 percent of the Lemurs), arguing that the pair conspired to sell the team without her approval. She won in 406th District Court and was awarded the team, but the legal battle did not include the ballpark lease. And without the lease, Torres — recognized by the league as rightful owner of the team — could not launch a team for the 2017 season. This was not unanticipated: a spring-training schedule released several days ago by the circuit did not include Laredo. From the Laredo Morning Times:
“Ms. Torres was the only funding option for the Lemurs,” said Torres’ attorney, attorney Baldemar Garcia, in an email. “There are no other options available. We proved her position and won her claims in court on April 28, and she enjoyed the full support of the American professional Baseball Association. Unfortunately, that was not enough.”
Garcia said the victims to the “tragedy” include Torres, her employees, players, sponsors, vendors and the citizens and taxpayers of Laredo.
“Ms. Torres invested $2,600,000.00 to improve the quality of life in Laredo,” Garcia further stated. “She is now forced to take her business elsewhere. It was my privilege to represent her.”
Meanwhile, without control of the lease, it was decided by the league that the plug would be pulled on the Lemurs for the 2017 season and beyond, with League Commissioner Miles Wolff announcing the team was no longer a member of the American Association. The result: a revival of the Stockade — a former independent Pecos League travel team — is being celebrated in Salina (KS), as the team will play up to 16 games at Dean Evans Field, with the rest of the “home” schedule played on the road. (Bonus to the other American Association teams picking up additional series.) Having a travel team is not unusual in the American Association, and this hybrid makes sense: Salina’s location between Lincoln, Kansas City and Wichita is convenient from a travel perspective. (It also removes Laredo from the travel agenda — another plus for the league.)