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Old Story -- Houston Sold Stadium to Mexico

Discussion in 'Other Sports' started by dc sports, Sep 6, 2000.

  1. dc sports

    dc sports Member

    Feb 9, 2000
    Likes Received:
    The Sports Business News had this interesting story. I never knew that the precursor to the Astrodome, the old Colt 45's stadium, was disassembled and moved to Tampico, Mexico, where it stands today as El Mecano -- the "Erector Set."

    Does anyone remember this?

    Sports Business News, September 6, 2000:

    For Sale - One Used Baseball Stadium: Interested in buying a used ballpark? A what…? A used ballpark? Yes, a stadium past its prime, one that has gone to that great sports complex in the sky. Somewhere near Tampico, Mexico rests El Mecano (literally, the "Erector Set") a truly lost "Field of Dreams".

    "It's not what it used to be, that's for sure," Armando Gonzalez, a former oil-refinery worker who serves as high commissioner of the Retired Oil Workers Amateur Baseball League of Tampico, offered in a Wall Street Journal report. "But it will always be El Mecano."

    "I've got a team right now that wants 3,500 seats; two more want scoreboards," says Paul Schafer, a San Diego businessman who sells used stadium accessories in Mexico. Schafer, according to the WSJ report, has managed to earn a living as the Fred Sanford of baseball. Last year he sold a section of the California Angels' grandstand to the Hermosillo Orange Pickers; he also brokered the deal that sent the Texas Rangers' old scoreboard to the Ciudad Obregon Yaquis.

    Schafer told the WSJ that the most prized pieces of stadium junk are JumboTron scoreboards. When the city of Seattle demolished the KingDome, Schafer brokered a deal to sell the KingDome's scoreboard to the Cordoba Coffee Growers. The Mexicali Eagles bought an old screen from the Kansas City Chiefs, while the Oakland Athletics' JumboTron went to the Tabasco Olmecas. While one man's junk may be another man's treasure, Schafer sells JumboTrons for as little as $100,000. When you consider that a new scoreboard can cost more than $4 million, he's offering bargains.

    Alvaro Ley paid $200,000 for the Saltillo Saraperos. The team plays in a stadium with an interesting history. It served as the home to the Houston Colt .45s for the team's first three seasons - 1962, 1963 and 1964 - before the team moved into the Astrodome and became the Astros. The stadium sat empty for five years.

    Finally, after then-Astros owner Roy Hofheinz failed to pay the property taxes, the city demolished the facility in 1969. In 1971, Juan Abusaid, a businessman from Torreon, Mexico, offered to take the tax liability off Mr. Hofheinz's hands. Abusaid paid $100,000 for the used parts, rented a fleet of trucks, and sent them to Houston to pick up his stadium.

    "We must have made 200 trips," recalls Carlos Abusaid, the late owner's son. It took scores of workers four years to assemble El Mecano in Torreon, where it reopened in 1975. Moises "Muy" Camacho, Torreon's manager, remembers the new ballpark got its name because it reminded people of the children's toy. "You needed a lot of screws," he recalls.

    "We loved that park," says Derek Bryant, now a coach in Hermosillo, in the WSJ report. "But to tell you the truth, we never thought about how Willie Mays once played here, or Hank Aaron. We were just trying to get through a season."

    In an era of retro ballparks, when baseball teams are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the retro look, teams might be well advised to contact Mr. Schafer and see what used parts he may have available.

    Stay Cool...

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