A few years ago Amarillo was not seen by many in baseball as a prime market to land a much-sought-after Texas League team. But one is moving to Amarillo in 2019. How did that happen? Through impressive support from the local business community.
By and large, Texas League teams do not move very often, with the two most recent moves — El Paso to Springfield (2005) and Wichita to Northwest Arkansas (2008) — occurring several years ago. And when Amarillo officials were first talking about a downtown multipurpose event center several years ago, the discussions were focused on independent baseball, not a Class AA Minor League Baseball team.
But something changed along the way, and Amarillo officials realized there was the chance the city could land a Texas League team. The road to the Texas League certainly had it up and downs, and at one point there was the chance the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) could move there while a new San Antonio ballpark was developed. Add in some competition from Wichita and Lubbock at various points, making for an interesting backstory. In the end, Amarillo was a key part of the announcement that Elmore Sports Group was shifting three MiLB franchises in 2019.
One thing remained constant during the fits and starts: the commitment from the business community to buy suites, naming rights and tickets. That support lowered the risk factor for owner D.G. Elmore, according to the Amarillo Globe-News:
It likely would not have happened without the signed commitments for major inventory six months ago. That spoke loudly, especially with Wichita squarely in the picture. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Wednesday’s news conference announcing the official move may not have occurred without those commitments.
“That’s hard to say, but it’s probably true,” DG Elmore said. “There’s a lot of things involved in moving three teams to various cities, but it’s not an overstatement to say the corporate community in Amarillo, doing what they did, was a very key factor.
“It was probably the clinching element that said we need to go to Amarillo. We need to do this. It minimized our risk in going to one of the smaller (AA) markets that we had a choice. We want to put baseball in Amarillo not just for 10 to 15 years, but I want my children’s children to one day head off to Amarillo for a ballgame.”
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