With so much uncertainty surrounding a proposed new ballpark in Escondido and concern about wear and tear at The Diamond, the home of the Lake Elsinore Storm (High Class A; California League), the decision apparently has been made to relocate the Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) temporarily to Tucson Electric Park for the 2011 season.
The news doesn’t come from the Bevos — a franchise that barely exists now after many employees shifted to work full-time for the MLS’s Portland Timbers — but from a Tucson councilman. It supports what Tucson baseball folks like Jay Zucker have said for weeks: that Tucson was the ultimate destination for the team.
Here’s what’s going down. First, despite uncertainty with the Escondido new-ballpark situation, San Diego Padres owner Jeff Moorad will go ahead with his plan to buy the Beavers from Merritt Paulson. Though Moorad had pushed a plan for the Beavers to play in Lake Elsinore, that plan faced some serious issues. So the decision has apparently been made to play in Tucson, though there’s been no official announcement.
That’s because some moving parts need to be nailed down. First, as we’ve noted, there’s pretty much nothing to the Beavers now except the name and the franchise agreement. Former Tucson Sidewinders (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) owner Jay Zucker is negotiating to run the Beavers on behalf of Moorad, and the likely destination for the team is Tucson Electric Park, the former home of the Sidewinders and the former spring home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox. Zucker would place his other team, the Tucson Toros (independent; Golden Baseball League) on hiatus — a pretty serious blow for that circuit. The Toros paced the league in attendance, and there are some issues coming up with at least one more GBL team in coming weeks.
The folks in Tucson are pretty happy: they supported the Toros pretty well, and they’ll have the chance to cheer on affiliated ball again. And who knows? If the Escondido ballpark proposal falls through, they may have the chance to cheer on the relocated Beavers for more than just a season.
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