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New San Antonio Missions Ballpark Back on Track?

San Antonio Missions 2015With a new MLS stadium seemingly DOA, city officials are reviving the idea of a new San Antonio Missions ballpark to replace Nelson Wolff Stadium after the move of a Triple-A Pacific Coast League team to the city in 2019.

The Elmore Sports Group is planning three simultaneous franchise shifts for the 2019 season: the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) to San Antonio, the San Antonio Missions (Class AA; Texas League) to Amarillo, and the Helena Brewers (Rookie; Pioneer League) to Colorado Springs. As part of that, the Sky Sox would plan in San Antonio under the Missions name and take up residency in Wolff Stadium until a new ballpark plan is in place.

City officials, however, were not thrilled with a new ballpark and focused their efforts on landing an MLS team to Toyota Field, which would require expansion from its current USL configuration. That plan was basically scrapped when Anthony Precourt launched a move of his Columbus Crew team to nearby Austin, with MLS officials saying that there’s no way both Austin and San Antonio would host teams.

That leaves a path open for city funding of a new ballpark. Wolff Stadium is a basic facility, to be sure, and it’s not suitable as the long-term home of Triple-A baseball. San Antonio Express-News columnist Roy Bragg is reporting that a new MiLB ballpark is back on the table, along with some details:

The new stadium, projected at $75 million-ish, will be a joint venture. The Elmores will be pitching in $25 million. But because they aren’t afloat on a sea of liquidity, there will need to be a minority owner. That search is ongoing….

The Missions aren’t getting better digs based on their good looks or a near championship last season. The primary job of this project will be to anchor modernization and monetization of an area. Baseball is a means to an end. Again, ouch.

To paraphrase an infomercial pitchman, investors are standing by. That’s because even in the towns where attendance has dropped, ancillary projects — lofts, restaurants, theaters, stores — have been successful.

As for locations, three are most frequently mentioned. One is in the Hemisfair complex and two others are in the northwest corner of the central business district. All three have easy highway access. Parking is either available or can be built in each place.

Now, take all of this with a few grains of salt; Bragg is a little fuzzy on details (and downright wrong on some; there will never, ever be Rookie-level ball in San Antonio because there no Rookie leagues in the region, and Year 3 isn’t when attendance drops off–just ask the Nashville Sounds, who set a First Tennessee Park attendance record in Year 3), but what he reports matches up to some rumors that were being passed around during the Winter Meetings. San Antonio leaders pride themselves on living in a world-class city, and civic pride demands a first-class facility to match.

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