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Best of 2016: #4, San Antonio Shuffle

San Antonio Missions 2015

We end 2016 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Ballpark Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #4: A ballpark proposal in San Antonio that could have reshaped multiple leagues. 

The year 2016 saw San Antonio officials seriously consider a new Class AAA ballpark, which would have freed up the San Antonio Missions (Class AA; Texas League) and reshuffled multiple leagues. However, 2016 is ending without a firm resolution on the proposal, leaving plenty of questions about the futures of multiple cities and franchises.

After much discussion, the City of San Antonio opted in September to shelve talks on a new ballpark, as the facility could not be included in city’s 2017 budget or 2017 bond program, a necessity if it was to open in 2019.  That came after some deliberation over whether to build a new ballpark that could house the relocating Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League).

The Sky Sox are owned by the Elmore Sports Group, which also owns the Missions. Since the Sky Sox were to come to San Antonio, that allowed the Missions to plan on the possibility of relocating, prompting pitches in multiple cities.

Amarillo continued to discuss a new ballpark, as officials there proposed a multi-use facility that could be built to Class AA standards. It was believed that Amarillo’s plans could hinge on San Antonio, but for right now it seems that Amarillo still remains in the picture.

Two other cities surfaced in talks about the Missions. In Lubbock, a group pushed to have a referendum on a hotel tax increase placed on the November ballot, potentially clearing the way for financing for a new ballpark. Lubbock officials were not swayed, however, and ultimately passed on the proposal.

Wichita, meanwhile, has seized the opportunity to discuss a possible return of the Texas League to the city. Earlier this month, the Wichita City Council approved an expanded special taxing district that could help pave the way for a new facility.

Obviously, San Antonio’s decision in September left these plans with numerous question marks. However, San Antonio mayor Ivy Taylor later emphasized that ballpark discussions had not been completely shelved and that the city was still open to discussions about the project’s funding model.

What happens from here remains to be seen. There are clearly numerous uncertainties at this point but, even though the issue was not resolved this year, 2016 yielded plenty of possibilities about what could happen in the future.

Previously in our Top Ten Stories of 2016 List:

#5: Columbia Fireflies

#6: Rebranding

#7: Oakland A’s Ballpark Quest

#8: Rays Continue Ballpark Search

#9: Spring Training Overhauls

#10: Savannah Bananas

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