01-22-2004, 08:00 PM
As expected, the Frontier League made the move of the Kenosha Mammoths to Ozark, MO official today.
The Ducks drew 75,000 last season, a poor showing for them but still three times higher than what Kenosha drew.
It's good if you're traveling from River City or Mid-Missouri, but Rockford and Windy City traded a 100-mile trip for one of over 500 miles. But, overall I think it's a good move for the league.
Minor League Baseball
Texas League Two-Step To Springfield?
Developer John Q. Hammons announced that a double A Texas League baseball team will play a year from now at Hammons Field in Springfield. Hammons also admitted that because he has gambling interests, major league baseball rules prohibit him from owning an affliated minor league team.
Not owning Springfield's minor league baseball team doesn't bother Hammons at all. In fact it may make moving a franchise to Springfield easier.
John Q. Hammons, developer: "I've always said 2005, double A. That's still true, that's what's going to happen."
With ownership issues out of the way, all Hammons needs to do is convince an existing team to relocate to Springfield.
Hammons: "It takes guts and money to do what we do."
Guts, money and a 32 million dollar state of the art baseball facility.
When completed, Hammons Field will be one of the best minor league baseball parks in the nation. It will have 8-thousand seats, an indoor workout facility, and a huge video scoreboard in left field. One thing it doesn't have right now is an affiliated minor league team.
Or does it?
Hammons: "It will be this year, announcing it will be in the hands of the franchise, private owners. I'm not going to identify, but i know who they are."
Who's moving here? Lets take a look.
Each major league franchise has three levels of minor league teams. Triple A, double A and single A. So there are only 30 double a teams in the United States. And eight play in the Texas League, that's where Hammons says Springfield's team will play.
Five of those franchises are in Texas; Round Rock, Frisco, San Antonio, Midland and El Paso. The other teams are in Tulsa, Little Rock and Wichita. Of the eight; two seem likely candidates to relocate: the El Paso Diablos and Wichita Wranglers.
Both have struggled with attendance. Last season Wichita sold about 350 season tickets. However the Wranglers still have five more years left on its stadium lease.
El Paso on the other hand has only two years left on its lease, and reportedly is having problems working out an extension. The Diablos are also owned by Brett sports and entertainment, and yes that George Brett is a partner with his brother. They own three minor league baseball teams.
Texas League commissioner Tom Kayser says none of his teams have talked to him about relocating. And Kayser told both the Wranglers and Diablos not to return calls to me regarding this story.
Hammons insists one of the Texas League eight will be in Springfield next summer.
Hammons: "I would never build a 32 million dollar ballpark unless I thought it could be used properly. Now you know that. I have a lot of places to spend money besides doing that."
As for what major league team would be affiliated with a Springfield club?
St Louis Cardinals president Mark Lamping told KOLR 10 that he has toured Hammons Field. He says he loves Springfield. The Cards double A contract in Tennessee expires after the 2004 season, meaning it could come to Springfield in 2005.
That is if Springfield has a franchise, and Hammons says he does.
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