While the club will eventually move to another venue, rugby’s Houston SaberCats are getting acclimated to Constellation Field, home of the Sugar Land Skeeters (independent; Atlantic League).
With the Skeeters still several months away from beginning their season, the SaberCats of Major League Rugby are calling Constellation Field their home for the preseason. A move to another venue is expected to take place by the spring, but in the interim a rugby pitch has been put into place at Constellation Field to accommodate the SaberCats during their stay.
Thus far, it appears to be a good arrangement for the SaberCats. The club has been greeted by steady fan support at Constellation Field, and that appears to be giving it a boost as it makes plans for the future. More from The Guardian:
Houston signed up for the ballpark when research suggested strong demand. The first match, a win over Seattle Saracens, drew about 5,000. Their second, a defeat by the UBCOB Ravens of Vancouver in adverse weather, about half that.
“We’ve been bowled over by the support, both from the rugby community but probably more importantly from people that aren’t familiar with rugby,” said Justin Fitzpatrick, the former Ulster and Ireland prop who is the SaberCats’ head coach.
“I think what we’ve done is hugely carefully researched,” said Jeremy Turner, the CEO. “Even the step into Constellation Field was based on research. Some of it empirical, that’s for sure, because it’s rugby, which is a lesser-known sport, but basically we worked very hard on making this professional.”
The club will need to find a new temporary venue in the spring but intend to announce a permanent location for next year. Turner said the team was “committed to building a just-over-3,000-seat stadium with all the mod-cons that you need, but we might revisit that in light of the experiences we’re having now”.
For the Skeeters, the presence of rugby makes for a unique non-baseball offering at Constellation Field. It also makes Constellation Field the latest ballpark to host rugby, as several other professional baseball facilities–including Dell Diamond, home of the Round Rock Express (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), and the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park–have welcomed the sport in recent years.