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MLS, Not MiLB Preferred by San Antonio Politicians

San Antonio Missions 2015Some prominent local politicians are stating a clear preference for public spending on a San Antonio MLS stadium expansion over any spending on a new ballpark for the San Antonio Missions (Class AA; Texas League) — but we’re still months away from any decisions.

Last month Elmore Sports Group announced that it was moving its Pacific Coast League franchise to San Antonio and Wolff Stadium, warning that this was a temporary venue during the pursuit of a new ballpark that meets Triple-A standards. (Wolff Stadium does not.) The move was made partly on faith — the faith that the city would at some point support public financing of a new Missions ballpark.

But Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff — for whom Wolff Stadium is named — are expressing clear support for MLS stadium expansion over a new MiLN ballpark. From our sister Soccer Stadium Digest site:

But despite some early words of encouragement, city officials say their emphasis is on attracting a San Antonio MLS team, which would require the addition of 10,000 seats — and, in this day and age, plenty of bells and whistles like social spaces and supporters spaces — to Toyota Field. The current San Antonio USL team is owned by Spurs Sports & Entertainment, the major sports-entertainment player in the market. With ownership of NBA, AHL, USL, G League and WNBA teams in San Antonio and Austin, Spurs Sports has a lot of local power. Hence the emphasis on helping the Spurs landing an MLS expansion team. And two local power players confirm the MLS emphasis:

“We have a clear path and a league that is expanding, so our focus is on Major League Soccer,” [Mayor Ron] Nirenberg said.

“Our primary objective here at the county is Major League Soccer,” [Judge Nelson] Wolff said.

Now, a word or two of warning. There’s no Missions ballpark proposal on the table as of now, so there’s really nothing for local officials to support or oppose. Meanwhile, the city already owns Toyota Field and has been committed to MLS since buying the stadium, so there’s something very tangible to support. Still, the lack of support is troubling. The first round of MLS expansion is expected before the end of the year, which should help clarify the Missions ballpark situation.

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