The Pacific Coast League is expected to decide this week whether to allow the sale of the Tucson Padres to a group seeking to move the franchise to a new downtown El Paso ballpark.
The principals behind MountainStar Sports Group made their pitch to PCL officials less than two weeks ago, laying out their plans for the team, the advantages of the El Paso market and the status of a proposed downtown ballpark. And while there’s been some inevitable opposition arising against public financing of a new downtown ballpark — the position from MountainStar Sports Group is that a ballpark is inevitable, even if voters reject a fall ballot question on raising hotel taxes to pay for the facility — so far elected officials have been supportive of the project, which has the opportunity to transform the western side of downtown El Paso.
Under the plan, a new $50-million ballpark could open for the 2014 season. The T-Padres, meanwhile, just signed a lease to stay at Kino Stadium for the 2013 season.
“The plan is that if we acquire the team, they will continue to play where they’re playing today until we have the stadium built,” Paul Foster, one of the four MountainStar Sports Group principals, told the El Paso Times.
A sale of the T-Padres and a subsequent move to El Paso under stable ownership would also bring a new chapter to what has been one of the more problematic franchises for the PCL in the last 15 years. Portland Family Entertainment bought the team and convinced the city to renovate PGE Park, only to see the financial structure of the deal crumble, leaving the city on the hook for unpaid bills. The team was subsequently sold twice as the Portland Beavers before being sold to Jeff Moorad and investors for a move to Escondido, Cal. That plan collapsed, and the team has been in a holding pattern in Tucson, where Mike Feder and crew have done a pretty good job of running the team under some uncertain circumstances.
Image courtesy of the City of El Paso.
RELATED STORIES: El Paso: Let’s sell Cohen Stadium to Tigua tribe; T-Padres back in Kino Stadium for 2013; One side effect of new El Paso ballpark: return of UTEP baseball; El Paso ownership group pitches PCL; El Paso approves ballpark for Triple-A team; First look: El Paso ballpark renderings; Diablos casualty of new El Paso ballpark; Downtown ballpark planning moving forward in El Paso; El Paso to debate ballpark bond issue; El Paso group seeking downtown ballpark, T-Pads; Moorad to Escondido: We need quick action on ballpark; Obstacles to new ballparks in California: not as bleak as expected; Escondido moving forward with business park on proposed ballpark property; City, not Moorad group, to acquire Escondido land; Escondido mayor: Time to scrap new-ballpark plan; Moorad: Leaving Padres in Tucson a possibility; Escondido ballpark vote put off indefinitely; Escondido ballpark vote delayed;State government could kill Escondido T-Pods ballpark; New for 2011: Tucson Padres;Escondido approves Triple-A ballpark — with reservations; Moorad group, Escondido sign MOU for new ballpark; Escondido council fills vacancy in advance of ballpark vote; Crunch time for new Escondido ballpark; Padres raise ante in Escondido ballpark negotiations; Escondido ballpark vote delayed again; new council will decide; Padres make it official: Beavers to Tucson in 2011; Election shows mixed support for new Escondido ballpark; Tuesday elections could determine fate of Bevos; Bevos to Tucson for 2011; Escondido ballpark vote delayed after pollution found at site; Fate of Bevos in the air until November, maybe December; Padres pitch one-sided lease to Escondido; Escondido: Show us some money, Padres; Escondido in, San Marcos out of Bevos ballpark mix
Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you a subscriber to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter? You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.