During their first season back as a Houston Astros affiliate, the Round Rock Express (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) are experiencing positive trends, including increases in attendance and merchandise sales.
Over the offseason, the Express signed a new player development contract (PDC) with the Astros, a move that served as a reunion of sorts. From 2005-2010, the Express served as the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate before coming to terms on a PDC with the Texas Rangers, who remained their parent club through last season. (An earlier Class AA Texas League version of the Express was affiliated with the Astros from 2000-2004, before shifting to Corpus Christi and being replaced at Round Rock’s Dell Diamond by a Pacific Coast League franchise).
The move back to being an Astros affiliate preceded a 2019 season that has produced success for the Express thus far. Attendance is up slightly from where it was a year ago and merchandise sales have spiked, with fauxback items inspired by the Astros’ rainbow pattern proving to be popular apparel with fans. More from the Austin American-Statesman:
Souvenir sales are where the 20-year-old franchise has distanced itself from last year, general manager Tim Jackson said, even taking into account the expected bump a club gets from an affiliation swap.
“Our overall merchandise is up 49%,” Jackson said, without disclosing monetary numbers. “We initially ran out of stock of throwback jerseys, but cap sales are the biggest thing, by far. Our best-selling item is the Fauxback cap. We’ve gotten positive bumps in a lot of areas.”
Jackson said the club, which resumes play at Dell Diamond on Thursday night against Iowa, has seen a lot of new faces at the ballpark. The Express, originally a Double-A Astros team, were aligned with the Rangers from 2011-18.
“Of course, you pick up on the orange pretty quick,” he said of fans wearing Astros gear. We always felt Austin was about 50/50 Astros/Rangers, and whoever we were affiliated with would swing it a little more in their favor.”
When the affiliation with the Astros was announced last September, the Express also unveiled a new line of logos and branding. The Astros’ rainbow pattern was worked into one of those logos, a specialty 20th season emblem that is shown below.
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