With the Wichita Wingnuts (independent; American Association) packing up and moving out of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, we could see some clarity this week on the future of affiliated baseball in the city.
The city served notice this year on both the Wingnuts and the National Baseball Congress that Lawrence-Dumont Stadium would be torn down after the 2018 regular season. The National Baseball Congress made plans to play out of Eck Stadium at Wichita State in 2019, but the future of the Wingnuts is up in the air.
That future may be affected by an expected announcement this week about the status of a new ballpark at the Lawrence-Dumont Stadium site, as word is that the city has reached an agreement with a Class AAA Pacific Coast League team to move there. As part of the move, the PCL ownership group would buy an existing Class AA Southern League team and move it to their present market. It sounds like the arrangements on the MiLB side are close to final, and we expect an announcement as soon as Thursday.
The big losers in all this: the Southern League city losing its team in a few years and the Wingnuts. Run by local ownership, the Wingnuts brought pro baseball back to a city that had lost affiliated ball in the form of the Wichita Wranglers (Class AA; Texas League). For indy ball, Lawrence-Dumont Stadium was a good home, and the Wingnuts became part of the community. With affiliated ball on the horizon, the decision needs to be made by the Wingnuts ownership to continue operations in Wichita or elsewhere.
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