If Wichita wants to pursue a Texas League franchise, a new ballpark is needed, according to league president Tom Kayser.
Last week chatter surfaced that Wichita could enter the picture as a prospective market if the San Antonio Missions wind up relocating. What was discussed was the possibility of renovating Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, something that, as was noted here at the time, might not be enough to attract a Texas League team. Lawrence-Dumont Stadium last hosted the league in 2007, and if a new Pacific Coast League ballpark is built in downtown San Antonio, the Texas League incarnation of the Missions will likely have options for a new facility in other cities, including Amarillo.
Kayser has come out publicly with these sentiments. He not only cites the lack of a viable renovation plan for Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, but how ballparks across the Class AA landscape have changed since the Wichita Wranglers departed the city after the 2007 season. More from the Wichita Eagle:
“My advice to Wichita, if it’s serious about this, is to get serious,” Kayser said. “Stop talking about fixing up Lawrence-Dumont. I understand it’s an historic ballpark, but it’s not an original. It’s been tinkered with and fooled around with over the years. They’ve got to look at how they can finance and build a ballpark that is consistent with what is being built around all of Double-A and not just in the Texas League.”
Kayser said the San Antonio situation is in a state of flux and that a decision on what to do about a new ballpark could still be months away. He stresses there is, at this point, no opening for a franchise in the Texas League.
If there was, though, he’s not sure how seriously Wichita would be considered. Especially if city leaders are devout to only renovate Lawrence-Dumont and not built a new stadium.
“Just look at the park in Tulsa,” he said. “That would be a tremendous example for Wichita. They’ve got outfield seating and an outfield picnic pavillion. There are two group areas in the concourses and a conference center upstairs. There’s a party deck behind home plate with a restaurant and bar. And everything for the players is underneath ground and enclosed. It’s a very spacious ballpark.”
Kayser said he and others have looked at other cities that could be Texas League options if San Antonio becomes a Triple-A franchise. Those include the Texas cities of Amarillo, Lubbock and Waco; the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, and Shreveport, La.
As Kayser noted, this entire scenario still hinges on whether San Antonio follows through with its new ballpark proposal. At least Wichita now has an idea of how it could start discussions with a team, should city leaders ultimately prove to be interested in a return to the Texas League.
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