The El Paso Diablos (independent; American Association) could relocate to Joplin, Mo. if the city council goes ahead with improvements to Joe Becker Stadium for 2015.
The Diablos shut down operations in El Paso’s Cohen Stadium at the end of the 2013 season due to the impending move of the El Paso Chihuahuas (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) to a new downtown ballpark for the 2014 season. The owners of the franchise, WLD Suarez Baseball LLC, have decided to look elsewhere for a new home and settled on Joplin as a potential base. The Diablos say ballpark improvements of $5.9 million would bring the ballpark up to pro standard. From the Joplin Globe:
Suarez representative Michael Wray said the field needs to be modernized, with new lights that would accommodate night play, new restrooms and other updates. He said the stadium needs to have about 4,200 seats.
“We’re not trying to build a monument to baseball with Joe Becker,” he said. “We feel Joe Becker has a tremendous heritage and history. We’re only trying to modernize and enhance and bring it up to modern-day standards.”
One of the proposals for the stadium is to build a berm where families can sit and picnic around the outfield, with a play area for children. Wray said two tickets for the parents with hot dogs and drinks for all the family would cost less than a family attending a movie, making games affordable to area residents.
There is plenty of history at Joe Becker Stadium: it opened in 1913 and hosted minor league baseball throughout the years; players like Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Joe Garagiola and Ken Boyer have graced the field. But it’s small — the official capacity now is 1,070 — and it’s not the same ballpark as the one from 1913, as it’s been rebuilt twice due to fires. The Division II Missouri Southern Lions have called it home in recent years, but that program is departing for an on-campus facility.
Image courtesy Missouri Southern.
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