In what will be the biggest move of Minor League Baseball franchises in one year by one owner, the Elmore Sports Group today announced the move of San Antonio, Colorado Springs and Helena teams for the 2019 season.
None of the moves are a surprise: the Elmore Sports Group has been open about seeking new opportunities in the past few years, as you can see in the list of articles linked on the bottom of this page.
First: After 112 seasons in the Texas League, the San Antonio Missions will move to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (PCL) for the 2019 season. This, technically, is the shift of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox franchise to San Antonio. The Missions will play their final season in the Texas League in 2018 with the Triple-A club moving into Nelson Wolff Stadium while a new ballpark is completed.
The Double-A franchise currently playing as the San Antonio Missions will become the latest addition to the Elmore Sports Group family as the Amarillo Professional Baseball Club, which will return affiliated professional baseball to Amarillo for the first time since 1982. The city of Amarillo is building a brand-new $45 million downtown ballpark that will serve as the home to the yet-to-be-named Texas League team starting with the 2019 season. Amarillo has a long history in affiliated professional baseball, serving as home to the Amarillo Gold Sox from 1939-1942, 1946-1963, 1965-1974 and 1976-1982. The Gold Sox were members of the West Texas-New Mexico League from 1939-1942 and 1946-1955, the Western League from 1956-1958 and were members of the Texas League from 1959-1963, 1965-1974 and 1976-1982.
To fill the void left in Colorado Springs, the Elmore Sports group will move its Rookie-level Helena Brewers from Montana to Colorado Springs as a member of the Pioneer League. The team will play at Security Service Field, where over the past 12 years the Elmore Sports Group has committed over $10 million in capital improvements, including the installation of a new HD video board and a new field lighting system.
“We are pleased to be able to continue providing affiliated professional baseball to the great city of Colorado Springs for many years to come as part of this transition,” said Elmore Sports Group President D.G. Elmore. “The Pioneer Baseball League schedule is a much better fit for this climate here, as the schedule begins in June and runs into early September, a time where fewer games will be impacted by weather and fans will be able to enjoy the ballgames throughout the summer months.”
These moves are contingent upon the approval of the Texas League, the Pacific Coast League, the Pioneer Baseball League, the President of Minor League Baseball and the review of the Baseball Office of the Commissioner.
These will not be the only MiLB moves in 2019, though these are the only ones directly orchestrated by the Elmore Sports Group. Colorado Springs is outside the Pioneer League footprint, so work will be done on arranging a travel partner. Currently talks have centered on an existing Pioneer League team exploring a move to Pueblo, Col., a move necessitated by the potential loss of a ballpark.
UPDATE: Some readers have asked us if this paves the way for the Texas Rangers to affiliate with the Missions. The answer: yes, but not immediately. Technically, any affiliation will move with the Sky Sox to San Antonio and the Missions Double-A franchise to Amarillo. Currently the Sky Sox are affiliated with Milwaukee Brewers through 2018 and the Rangers are affiliated with the Round Rock Express through 2018. Now, the logical move would be the Rangers hooking up with the Sky Sox and make the move to San Antonio, leaving Round Rock to affiliate with the Astros. Any affiliation shifts will be negotiated after the 2018 season.
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