The Colorado Springs Sky Sox could soon be leaving the high altitudes of Colorado for the warmer climate of San Antonio. Earlier today, San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor confirmed that the Elmore Group has committed to bring a Triple-A franchise to San Antonio by 2019. While the Sky Sox were not mentioned directly as the franchise that would be moving, since it is the only franchise that they own, it's likely that they will be the team that is relocating.
The problems with baseball in Colorado Springs have been well-documented for a while now. The high altitude makes their home park a more hitter-friendly park, and has been known to affect the pitchers that pitch there. In addition, the stadium in Colorado Springs is old, and attempts to build a new stadium have been rejected. Plus, attendance has been near the bottom of the Pacific Coast League for years, even when the Rockies were affiliates of the Sky Sox. With all of this working against Colorado Springs, a move makes sense for the Sky Sox ownership.
The move would involve three big pieces. The first piece would be the relocation of the current Double-A team (the San Antonio Missions) out of San Antonio. There are candidates available, and the one city named specifically is Amarillo. Once they have relocated, that would allow the Sky Sox to move to San Antonio. In addition, to fill the vacant space left by the Sky Sox in Colorado Springs, the Helena Brewers (another Brewers affiliate owned by the Elmore Group) would be relocated to Colorado Springs.
It's important to take this news with a grain of salt. There are still many hurdles to clear before a move happens. Here are some of them:
1. The City of San Antonio still has to approve funding for a stadium.
Even though a Double-A team currently is playing in San Antonio, their stadium is not suited for a Triple-A team, so a new facility will have to be built. That will require funding, and the city of San Antonio will put that up to the voters. They will vote on funding for a new $75 million stadium to be built in the city. The whole move is contingent on getting that funding. If that does not happen, the whole deal will fall through.
2. The Sky Sox have not officially announced a move yet.
Even though the Sky Sox ownership group has commited to bringing a team to the area, the Sky Sox were not mentioned by name. However, since Triple-A can't grow beyond the number of teams currently in MLB, and the Elmore Group only owns one Triple-A team, the Sky Sox would be the ideal candidate.
3. MiLB has to approve the move.
Considering all of the moving parts of this deal, MiLB will have to approve all of it before it can happen. There would be three core parts to this move:
- Triple-A Colorado Springs relocates to San Antonio
- Double-A San Antonio relocates to Amarillo (or another city)
- Rookie League Helena relocates to Colorado Springs
Even though no teams would officially fold or be created, there's still a lot of moving parts to that move. It could involve league realignments, travel considerations have to be accounted for, and any other factors regarding the team's geography have to be considered. While the move would likely be approved, it's not a given.
4. The Brewers may not renew their deal with the Sky Sox.
As all of this is happening, there's one other key factor to remember: The Brewers PDC with the Sky Sox ends after this season. Colorado Springs has been seen as a less than ideal candidate for Triple-A for a long time, and two more years there may not be in the Brewers plans. In addition, they have been on the good and bad side of a move in the last few years. The Brewers spent years helping Nashville with their new stadium and then were dumped right before it was completed. On the other hand, the Brewers stuck with Huntsville as they moved to Biloxi, and that relationship appears to be very strong between the two. If the Brewers are willing to stick with Colorado Springs through the moving process, they may want a four-year deal to avoid a repeat of what happened with Nashville. It would mean two more years in Colorado Springs, but also at least two years in a brand new facility in San Antonio. That's purely speculation, but it's hard to see the Brewers willing to risk another Nashville situation.
Right now, there's a lot that has to happen before a move would be possible. However, momentum is building and relocation is becoming a very strong possibility. If it all plays out well and the Brewers stick with the Sky Sox for now, it could lead to a nice payoff in a few years.