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Diablos casualty of new El Paso ballpark

El Paso DiablosOne side effect of a new ballpark in downtown El Paso: the probable demise of the El Paso Diablos (independent; American Association).

Owned by the Tigua tribe, the Diablos play out of city-owned Cohen Stadium. Since buying the team for $500,000 in 2011, the Tigua tribe has spent about $750,000 on ballpark improvements, including a swimming pool, restroom and luxury box upgrades, and more. That investment will largely be down the drain should a city-owned ballpark open in 2014, as a proposed lease with a Triple-A ownership group prevents the city from working with a competitor. Of course, it’s questionable whether the Diablos would want to remain operating at Cohen Stadium anyway: history shows the futility of an independent team competing with an affiliated team in the same market.

As you might expect, Tigua tribal leaders aren’t too happy about this twist of fate. And while city officials regret not informing the tribe sooner, they say their desire for affiliated ball is no surprise:

“I think that the Tiguas have been in tune with what we’ve been doing all along,” Mayor John Cook said. “We’ve been talking about trying to attract a Triple-A baseball team for well over a year. I think you have to think more about El Paso’s future than the other team. For us to go from the what the Diablos are to a Triple-A team is a huge step for this city.”

Perhaps. But it’s pretty clear the Tiguas would not have invested over a million dollars on El Paso baseball if they had truly thought a Triple-A team in the city was close to reality. Though there’s some chatter of the Diablos setting up shop in Las Cruces, we’re pretty sure the economics of the American Association will force a search for a larger market.

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