San Antonio Triple-A team threatens to leave without new stadium, two years before moving in

I tend to leave minor-league stadium shenanigans for the Friday roundups, but it’s not every day that a local elected official declares that a stadium named for his own dad is obsolete and needs to be replaced in order to keep its team from leaving town:

When the San Antonio Missions start playing Triple-A baseball in 2019, it’s still unclear if Wolff Stadium will be the team’s long-term home.

“What I worry about is that after they’re here for a year and playing in a Double-A stadium, is when the ownership group comes back to the city and the county and says, ‘Hey, look, if we don’t get a Triple-A stadium, we are going to have to move,'” said Bexar County Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Wolff.

The stadium was named for Wolff’s father, County Judge Nelson Wolff.

Let’s back up for a second. Wolff Stadium was built all the way back in 1994 — that’s a different century! — and renovated in 2006, as part of a deal that saw the Double-A Missions take over operations of the ballpark. The county still owns it, though, so Kevin Wolff is presumably suggesting that the public should take on the cost of expanding or replacing the 9,200-seat facility to keep the team happy. (The team’s owners have already released a statement declaring the unthinkably 23-year-old stadium to be “not the long-term answer for Triple-A baseball in San Antonio.”)

Wolff indicated that Wolff Stadium needs an extra 1,000 seats to be considered Triple-A compliant, but that’s not exactly true: While 10,000 is the “recommended” minimum seating capacity, six stadiums in the Pacific Coast League hold fewer fans than San Antonio’s does currently.

In any event, San Antonio just got awarded Triple-A baseball in late June — after major-league teams decided that it was too hard to evaluate young players in the thin air of Colorado Springs — so you’d think two years before the team even moves in would be a bit early to start levying threats to relocate, but clearly not. Here’s hoping that Bexar County officials come back with “You’re welcome to pay for it yourself, and if not we’re fine with going back to Double-A ball,” or at the very least, “Quit saying mean things about the stadium named for my dad.”

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11 comments on “San Antonio Triple-A team threatens to leave without new stadium, two years before moving in

  1. So we have the same team owners who decided to move to San Antonio and Wolff Stadium now saying the ballpark is not the “long-term” answer for them? What has changed from the time they announced the team was being moved from Colorado Springs? The stadium hasn’t.

    What’s really happening, I suspect, is that the deal between Dave Elmore, who owns both the Sky Sox AND the current AA Missions, and mayor Ivy Taylor is not going over with people in the city who’d rather have an MLS franchise in town than a AAA baseball team (shades of Portland), so Elmore is already talking about moving a team that has yet to even play a game in San Antonio…that has to be a first of some kind.

    Why not just keep your AA team in San Antonio, Dave, and find another place for the Sky Sox to move? Shoot, Tucson has a metropolitan population of over a million people and TWO ballparks that have hosted AAA teams.

    1. Tucson’s also failed twice in the PCL, drawing 2,800 per game in 2013, their last season (in comparison, Colorado Springs is averaging 4,100 per game this year).

      It’s a lot harder than just saying “find another place for your team to move” – there really aren’t that many Triple-A markets out there.

      1. Portland is the obvious place (spare me the BS about attendance, the single A team in suburban Hillsboro routinely sells out), but since the city won’t pay for a stadium while other wannabes like El Paso will, it won’t happen in Portland.

        1. Hillsboro has the rights to the Portland territory, so the Northwest League and a Triple-A team couldn’t co-exist.
          In addition to needing a stadium, a theoretical Triple-A team would have to compensate the Northwest League team and the city of Hillsboro for kicking them out.

    2. “Why not just keep your AA team in San Antonio, Dave, and find another place for the Sky Sox to move? Shoot, Tucson has a metropolitan population of over a million people and TWO ballparks that have hosted AAA teams.”

      Part of the drive behind this, not that anything’s official, is likely due to the Rangers needing a AAA affiliate nearby by 2019. Currently the Rangers are affiliated with the Round Rock Express, which is owned by Nolan Ryan and his sons as well as a partner named Don Sanders. That arrangement dates to when Ryan was Rangers President – a job he was edged out of by Jon Daniels. Ryan has since gone back to an advisor role with the Astros, where his oldest son is team president, and it’s expected when the contract is up the Express will return to an Astros affiliation.

      Before Round Rock in 2011, the Rangers AAA franchise had been in Oklahoma City for about 30 years, and the team likes having an affiliate a few hours away in one direction or another. Since 2011, the OKC team was bought by a group including Dodger minority owner Peter Guber and has adopted Dodger branding, so it’s off the table, too. The expectation is that the relocated SA team will pair up with the Rangers, who have had a few preseason games in the Alamodome over the last 10 or 15 years and value a presence there in addition to having their top affiliate in the region.

      If it were me, it makes more sense for the Rangers current AA team in Frisco (NE side of the DFW metroplex) to move to AAA as they play in a stadium that should be up to AAA specifications already. Then again, Wolff Stadium should be too, so it’s not like any of this matters beyond what the owners want to ask for and what a city is dumb enough to give.

  2. Couple things. First coming from Charleston S.C., Baltimore and California (military family) Every single baseball team has been located downtown, very cost effective, easy transportation and most importantly outstanding game day experience. San Antonio, Outside of the Spurs fails 75% of the time in all of these departments in all of their sports.
    The cities direction on this from my vantage point is horrible.
    So let’s just look at baseball. It’s 100 degrees most of your season. Logic says you need a indoor stadium, logic says you should have it downtown or by six flags to draw the tourism money. Like hockey attach a mall to the stadium. That’s a thing. If it’s up by utsa, you also get the students and have college Thursdays like Charleston did dollar beer night, 8 dollar bucket and they even had bring your dog to the game night.
    Riverdog games are a social event. Amazing and fun. So disappointed in San Antonio. Amazing city, huge Spurs fans but where is your voting and pride in those other teams? Have to pay for a stadium? Fine NP long as it’s a good stadium, indoor and in a good location. Like everything in life I don’t mind being charged as long as I am getting a good value. We are getting a great IP. It needs a good venue, and it should be in the right location that can be used for other events and sports, our hockey team? Maybe? Concerts for sure.
    Something to ponder.

    1. Having a mall with your arena REALLY worked out well for the Hartford Whalers #CueBrassBonanza

    2. “huge Spurs fans but where is your voting and pride in those other teams?”
      It’s almost like the Spurs are a major league team and all these other ones are minor league. Oh, wait…

  3. Where did the team threaten to move out of San Antonio? It looks like Wolf of Precinct 3 is just bringing that up.

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