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[Chron] Astros not interested in a Sugar Land affiliate

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by Smokey, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. Smokey

    Smokey Contributing Member

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    Dammit the Astros are c*ckblocking. Minor league baseball is freaking awesome. Independent ball blows. To me, indy ball players need to give up the dream and get real jobs.

    Given the options, I'll take the American Association.

    ---

    Sugar Land explores its options for baseball
    American Association, Atlantic League top candidates with affiliated baseball likely out of the plans

    By ZACHARY LEVINE Copyright 2010 Houston Chronicle
    Feb. 22, 2010, 11:21PM


    Residents of Fort Bend County are already within easy driving distance of a major league stadium as well as some of the best college and high school baseball in the nation.

    Soon, they may have one more option even closer to home to add to their baseball buffet.

    Sugar Land has entered a 90-day exclusive negotiating window with the Lancaster Pa.-based ballpark developer Opening Day Partners with the intention of bringing baseball to the city for opening day 2012.

    The ballpark, according to plans, would be part of a Cultural Entertainment District near the University of Houston System at Sugar Land campus that would also feature an indoor concert venue and a hotel and convention center. Sugar Land voters approved funding for the project in a November 2008 election.

    “What we're really looking for is a family destination,” Sugar Land mayor James Thompson said. “We think it will be much bigger than (baseball).”

    The preliminary discussions about the ballpark put it in the Class AAA compatibility range, typically requiring a seating capacity at least in the high four-digits, but the exact capacity is among the features that will be sorted out during the 90-day period, which ends in mid-May.

    Which league will make the expansion or relocation to Sugar Land is the biggest question.

    For now, it seems clear it will not be a team affiliated with a major league club. Sugar Land is part of the territory controlled by the Astros, so they can block any move of a competitor's minor league club, and they are not inclined to bring one of their own affiliates to the area, according to Thompson and Opening Day Partners chairman Peter Kirk.

    “They informed me that they did not want to be a part of it,” Thompson said of his talks and request for solicitation of interest in late 2009.


    Astros president of business operations Pam Gardner declined to comment on the Sugar Land situation.

    Atlantic affiliation?

    With the affiliated leagues — those that form the pipelines from the draft and international signings to the major leagues — off their radar, the focus has turned to independent leagues.

    “In this 90-day period, we will go out and survey all the leagues and find which is the best,” Kirk said. “The two most obvious right now are the Atlantic League and the American Association.”

    Opening Day Partners has worked closely with the Atlantic League and has experience with that league in past expansions. Atlantic League executive director Joe Klein came to Sugar Land for meetings on the ballpark proposal and was impressed with what he saw.

    “I couldn't believe how excited people were about baseball itself and the Atlantic League,” said Klein, who has served as general manager of the Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers.

    Having a Sugar Land team in the Atlantic League may sound like a misnomer on the order of putting the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East, but Klein said an expansion beyond Waldorf Md., which serves as both the southern and western extreme, is within the scope of possibility.

    A marriage with the Atlantic League would likely bring the city 72 home dates against the teams from the limited geographic base of Connecticut to Maryland, or Connecticut to Virginia should another reported expansion possibility go through.

    American's clubs closer

    The American Association, on the other hand, would make more sense geographically with teams in Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, El Paso and Shreveport, La., but would give the city only 48 home dates unless the schedule is expanded.

    “We are very interested in Sugar Land,” American Association commissioner Miles Wolff said. “The plans make it look like a great facility, and there would be teams in close geographic range.”

    The American Association cooperated with the Ventura Sports Group for one of the bids that Sugar Land ultimately rejected in favor of establishing the negotiating window with Opening Day Partners, which is thrilled with the opportunity to bring minor league baseball to Greater Houston.

    “We want to develop baseball fans,” Kirk said. “We want people to go see the Sugar Land team and then go see the Astros and vice versa.”

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/bb/6880348.html
     
  2. Refman

    Refman Contributing Member

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    So the natural question becomes...

    Since it is a given that Nolan Ryan will make Round Rock and Corpus affiliates of the Rangers after next year, where will our affiliates be if not Sugar Land?
     
  3. wallyj12

    wallyj12 Member

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    It can still be an independent league. For some reason, I couldn't see a major league affiliate team coming to Sugar Land
     
  4. Smokey

    Smokey Contributing Member

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    If Frisco, a Dallas suburb, can support the Rangers AA, Sugar Land can support the Astros AA.

    IIRC Hicks owns the Frisco team. Perhaps the Astros aren't interested because it's not their team and they don't want another owner taking dollars and interest away from the major league team which will be in the crapper for the next few years.

    IMO the Astros are missing the big picture. Baseball isn't like football or basketball. Rangers fans in DFW can watch their stars today. It's good for fans to get to know the players and I bet those fans are more likely to watch/attend Rangers games in the future.
     
  5. CometsWin

    CometsWin Breaker Breaker One Nine

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    Since when is that a given? I've never seen that mentioned.
     
  6. JunkyardDwg

    JunkyardDwg Contributing Member

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    I can see it making sense if you have an Astros affiliate here...but an independent? When you already have one major league ball club and two college programs?

    Plus, the quote about building a family destination hardly makes sense when you already have Town Center, which isn't exactly booming right now.
     
  7. jev5555

    jev5555 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    If you build it, they will come.
     
  8. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    it's been mentioned, but i wouldn't say it's a given just yet.
     
  9. leroy

    leroy Contributing Member

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    Since Nolan Ryan became part of the new Rangers ownership and since Ryan is part owner of the RR Express, who's contract with the Astros is up after this season. At least here in Austin/Round Rock, it's pretty much assumed this will be the Express' last year as the Astros AAA affiliate. The Ryan/Sanders contract with the Astros for Corpus runs for another couple of seasons.
     
  10. Baqui99

    Baqui99 Contributing Member

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    I don't blame the Astros. Sugar Land is a miserable, lifeless place.
     
  11. ryan17wagner

    ryan17wagner Member

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    Eh. Frisco is about an hour from Arlington with traffic, so it's not much competition for their team. It would be like an Astros minor league team in Wharton County.

    And the Astros don't want competition. So it makes sense.
     
  12. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    And, fans don't really go to Rangers games anyways, so its not like competition is "hurting" them.
     
  13. msn

    msn Member

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    why does the decision need to be viewed as final?

    it wouldn't surprise me in the least for AA or AAA Astros baseball to be in Sugarland in 2013 or later.
     
  14. bigben69

    bigben69 Member

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    explain...its just as good as anywhere for them to have it
     
  15. msn

    msn Member

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    I'll explain: dude says negative stuff just to say it. pay no mind.
     
  16. justtxyank

    justtxyank Contributing Member

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    I don't blame them. Drayton is very protective of his market share. He wouldn't want anything that could hurt his attendance, and a minor league team in Sugar Land probably would as most people who attend Astros games are coming from the suburbs anyway.
     
  17. msn

    msn Member

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    I disagree that a minor league franchise would hurt major league attendance. The only thing the two events have in common is the rules of the game. Minor league games are a spectacle to themselves.

    If the Astros want attendance the only solution, regardless of the presence or lack of a minor league franchise in Sugarland, is to simply win.
     
  18. justtxyank

    justtxyank Contributing Member

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    So it is your position that people who attend minor league games are not fans of major league baseball and because of that fact no one who goes to a minor league would go to a major league game?

    Because unless that is your position, your post is false.
     
  19. xcrunner51

    xcrunner51 Contributing Member

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    The Braves AAA affiliate moved to a new location less than an hour from the Major league team 2 years ago. It hasn't strongly affected Braves attendance numbers.
     
  20. Al22ex

    Al22ex Member

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    Drayton is right not to support it.

    Here's the thing about both minor and major league baseball.. Let's forget about walk-up crowds to these games. Which if you ever really looked at numbers from ticket reports are surprisingly smaller than you'd think. (unless of course you are the Red Sox or Cubs when every game sells out)

    The life blood of mid market major league teams and high level minor league teams are groups. The groups at a game make up roughly a third of your in-house attendance.

    The Astros would have a significant number of groups (church groups, little league teams reunions etc.) that would suddenly find a cheaper alternative to attending an Astros game to accomplish virtually the same thing.

    For those of you about to say... (but that's not major league baseball!!) you do know we are talking about the current Astros right???

    That is besides the point other wise. Sure some of these groups still would like to come out and watch the major league product. However, some groups that maybe come out to multiple Astros games may now come out to more Triple-A Sugarland games and thus fewer Astros games. Why? Because minor league games are more about the fan than the game. The same cannot be said for a big-league game. These groups will find that they have a batter seat, cheaper price, better overall experience at a minor league game.

    The very rich may by season tickets to both. Middle-class one or the other. Or you would see sugar land full season plans drop to half and mini season plans.

    There will be lost revenue. Plus lets not forget the Astros are ALREADY struggling to sell tickets.

    Indy baseball won't hurt the Astros because you don't need as high of revenue streams or as high of attendance to make indy ball work. Meaning cheaper ticket prices and it would not be as quality of a baseball product.

    Smart move by the Astros. Indy baseball is fun Sugarland folks. Besides tickets are cheap enough to watch the big league guys down-town. Why go see Triple-A guys for what may be a better seat, but you'll just end up watching fizzled out prospects and veterans hanging on a bit too long.
     

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