Issues surrounding Wolff Stadium raised concerns for the Texas Rangers, contributing to the club’s decision to pass on an affiliation with the San Antonio Missions (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League).
On Wednesday, it was announced that the Milwaukee Brewers and Missions had agreed to a player development contract (PDC) that runs through the 2020 season. This technically represents the continuation of an existing agreement, as the Brewers were the parent of the former Colorado Springs Sky Sox before the club’s move to San Antonio after the 2018 season.
San Antonio is obtaining Triple-A baseball after the Double-A Texas League Missions moved to a new Amarillo ballpark, and were replaced at Wolff Stadium by the Colorado Springs franchise. Since the previous agreement between the Brewers and the former Sky Sox was set to end after the 2018 season, it led many to believe that the Rangers–who faced an expiring PDC with the Round Rock Express (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League)–would align themselves with the Class AAA Missions. However, the Missions franchise is continuing its affiliation with the Brewers, while the Rangers will become the new parent club of the Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League).
Before finalizing the agreement with Milwaukee, Missions president Burl Yarbrough reached out to MLB multiple teams, including the Rangers. An affiliation with the Missions would have given the Rangers a sizable presence within a major market in their state, but the condition of Wolff Stadium was an issue for the team. Opening in 1994, the ballpark is considered out-of-date by Class AAA standards and is only expected to host the Missions until a new ballpark is built. No firm plan for a replacement has emerged to this point, however, apparently leaving the Rangers uncomfortable with the prospect of committing to San Antonio. More from the San Antonio Express-News:
The Astros never were coming because they already had a family connection in Round Rock. And as perfect of a fit as the Rangers would have been — that franchise has fans here, and would love to attract more — they couldn’t overlook San Antonio’s biggest baseball problem.
Namely, the city just doesn’t have a great place to play.
“At the end of the day,” Yarbrough said of his brief talks with the Rangers, “they decided to be somewhere else.”…
But if this still feels temporary, that is because it is. Next season, the Missions will call Triple-A’s most populous city home while playing in its smallest, most outdated stadium, and that means no major-league franchise will commit to affiliating here until it receives some assurances about a new facility or drastic improvements to Wolff Stadium.
It should be noted that the end result for both sides–the Missions and the Rangers–is not necessarily bad. Missions owner Elmore Sports Group has a solid working relationship with the Brewers, and Milwaukee was reportedly satisfied with plans to upgrade some player facilities at Wolff Stadium. The Rangers, meanwhile, landed in a relationship with the Sounds, who are based in a major market and play in a ballpark–First Tennessee Park–that has been widely acclaimed since its opening in 2015.
Still, the questions surrounding the future of Wolff Stadium and prospects of a new ballpark in San Antonio are issues that the Missions will want to answer in the future. As for the Rangers, their agreement with the Sounds–set to be officially announced on Thursday–does not expire until after the 2022 season, so their affiliation in Nashville is guaranteed to run at least four seasons.