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PCL approves move of T-Padres to El Paso — if lease approved

Pacific Coast LeagueThe Class AAA Pacific Coast League has approved the move of the Tucson Padres to El Paso in 2014 — if the City Council approves a lease at today’s meeting, a decision where the outcome is still up in the air.

This email from league offices, as released by team purchaser MountainStar Sports (Josh Hunt of this group is the Josh referenced in the email), confirms the approval:

“Dear Josh,

I’m pleased to report that the PCL Board of Directors has conditionally approved the proposed Control Interest Transfer, Relocation Application and Lease RT involving the sale of the Tucson Padres to MSSG and the relocation of the Club to El Paso for the 2014 season.

“The full list of conditions to the approval will be set forth in a letter to you from Branch Rickey.  However, because of the timing issues due to the City Council meeting today, I wanted to let you know right away that one of these conditions includes the requirement that the El Paso City Council approve the Lease, Development Agreement and Non-Relocation Agreement on the terms set forth in the Term Sheet approved by the City Council on June 26th and as subsequently amended and updated, at the meeting being held later today.

“If you have any questions regarding the PCL Board’s conditional approval, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards,
Steve Smith
PCL Legal Counsel”

The letter from the PCL adds to the discussion tonight over whether the City Council should approve a lease for MountainStar Sports or whether it should go before voters in a referendum. The original agreement with the city passed by a 6-2 margin, but since then a key vote has gone the other way, and if Mayor John Cook does veto a ballpark deal, there might not be the six votes needed to override. The original plan called for the city to finance a $50-million ballpark; the terms of the lease have been changed slightly, but it may not be enough to sway a supermajority on the City Council.

There’s been a lot of political posturing in El Paso over the ballpark, posturing that goes far beyond baseball and into the area of political aspirations. For what it’s worth, we’ve never seen a league and a team owner so transparent about things like Control Interest Transfers; the El Paso City Council can’t say they weren’t given a lot of usually proprietary information in such an open format.

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