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El Paso Diablos to Socorro?

El Paso DiablosIf the El Paso Diablos (independent; American Association) are booted from their Cohen Stadium lease, there’s the possibility ownership will build a new ballpark in nearby Socorro.

The Diablos are owned by the Tigua tribe, who are seeking to preserve ther million-dollar-plus investment in the franchise and Cohen Stadium upgrades. The team’s future is threatened by the relocation of the Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) if a new downtown ballpark is approved by the City Council this Tuesday.

One option, says Diablos GM Matt LeBranche, is to stay in the area with a new ballpark in nearby Socorro.

“There is talk right now of the Tigua Tribe building a stadium in Socorro and keeping the Diablos there,” he told KDBC-TV. “We own a franchise in the American Association worth half a million dollars for the franchise itself. Obviously if you don’t have a lease, it brings the value of the business down. But we own a franchise in the American Association, the top Independent professional league in the country. We want to be able to continue to be able to operate that somewhere.”

Whether El Paso is a strong enough market to support an independent team playing in a relatively small suburb (Socorro itself only has 30,000 or so residents) when there’s a brand-new team playing in a shiny new downtown ballpark is a huge question, of course. Given the bad track record of indy teams trying to inhabit the same midsize market as a affiliated team (i.e., Corpus Christi), we’d say the Tiguas should maybe reconsider the notion.

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