In announcing the addition of the Abilene Prairie Dogs to the independent North American League lineup, team ownership announced efforts were underway to procure a new ballpark for the 2013 season.
It’s not the first time Byron Pierce and John Bryant have fielded a team in Abilene; they owned the Abilene Prairie Dogs in the old Texas-Louisiana League and faced some of the same issues they’re facing today: fielding a team in potentially a decent market that lacks a decent ballpark.
“The Prairie Dogs were in Abilene during the 1990s, and were very successful,” Pierce said. “When their lease expired they moved to San Angelo and became the Colts, but Abilene has always been a good market. We can’t wait to bring the Prairie Dogs back.”
Indeed, the best analogy would be to San Angelo, where owner Harlan Bruha and Robert Hegglund privately financed their own ballpark. Abilene isn’t the league’s largest market with a population of 120,000 or so, but a new ballpark is really needed if the team is to succeed. Walt Driggers Field is a smaller ballpark with a capacity of 900, and obtaining a beer license there or at the other suitable ballpark in town, the much larger Crutcher Scott Field at Abilene Christian, is problematic. So we’re probably looking at a modest facility for a modest market — but there’s nothing wrong with that.
Mike Babcock, by the way, is GM of the new team.
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