This just may be the most solid circuit in Minor League Baseball: The Texas League gathered for its All-Star Game in Tulsa with eight solid markets and no clouds on the horizon.
When talking recently to owner/GM types recently about the El Paso attempt to bring back affiliated ball to that city, the consensus was that the city would be better off with Double-A Texas League baseball, which it once had. The only problem: there’s not a team for sale in the circuit, and certainly not one available for a move. And with no Class A leagues in the region, the only chance for affiliated ball in El Paso is the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where teams are available, including one for relocation.
El Paso’s loss is the Texas League’s gain. The eight-team circuit has eight good markets and eight solid ownership groups: no teams are available for the relocation, and the last sale came in 2010, when Chuck Lamson sold the Tulsa Drillers back to the Hubbard family. The San Antonio Missions ownership has been talking with the city about a new downtown ballpark, but there’s no chance the team would leave such a solid market. Newer ballparks are in use in Little Rock, Corpus Christi, Frisco, Northwest Arkansas and Springfield.
Tulsa is a good example of how the league has evolved. The league’s All-Star Game was played at ONEOK Field, a considerable upgrade from the Drillers’ old home. “There was a time when we used to take people to Round Rock to show them what was possible in minor league baseball stadium construction,” Texas League President Tom Kayser told Tulsa World. “Now, we bring those folks to Tulsa.
“Everything about ONEOK Field is great. It has become what the folks here in Tulsa had envisioned, an anchor at one end of a downtown revitalization. It has spurred all kinds of excitement in that area of Tulsa. In addition, the facility is fabulous for both the players and the fans. It is beautiful and has a beautiful view for the fans.”
The status quo in the league isn’t likely to change soon. There is no talk about any league shifts that would add four teams to the Texas League (adding two makes no sense when it comes to scheduling) and there’s certainly no talk of expansion.
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