Jim Crane says the Houston Astros could be part of a move to place a Triple-A Pacific Coast League team in The Woodlands, an affluent Houston suburb, reversing the decision made by Drayton McLane, Jr. to oppose any such moves.
“Something closer (to Houston) could certainly enhance the brand,” Crane told the Houston Chronicle. Right now the Astros’ top farm team is the Oklahoma City RedHawks (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League).
Officials from both Sugar Land and The Woodlands, along with existing Minor League Baseball owners, had approached former Astros owner McLane about placing a Triple-A team in the Houston suburbs, only to be rebuffed. In Sugar Land’s case, city officials worked out a deal with Peter Kirk and Opening Day Partners to place a team at a city-financed ballpark; Constellation Field was a tremendous success, with the Sugar Land Skeeters (independent; Atlantic League). In addition, Montgomery County — which includes The Woodlands — had an agreement with Ventura Sports to finance a new independent American Association ballpark; that effort fell through, but there were further talks with the Atlantic League about a new ballpark.
And we’re guessing Crane saw that success (which included a comeback from Roger Clemens) and decided the Astros could benefit as well.
It’s way too early to discuss potential relocation candidates, but there is at least one PCL team on that market that could conceivably be moved to The Woodlands. (No, we’re not going to identify the team.)
For Crane, a dive into MiLB ownership is a way to extend the Astros brand. “We don’t own [our farm teams], so we’d have to step up and buy them and move them around and we’re looking at all those options,” Crane told the Chronicle. “Because we feel if we control those options, it’s better for our partners and better for our fans.”
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