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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

More on Skeeters Becoming an Affiliate

To follow up on some responses to a previous post about what would be involved in the Sugar Land Skeeters becoming an Astros' affiliate, here is a hypothetical scenario whereby it could happen. 

The AAA scenario-  At some point in the future, Opening Day Partners, who owns the Skeeters, purchases the Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League from that franchise's current owner with the intent of moving the team to Sugar Land.  The Las Vegas franchise, currently operated by the Stevens Baseball Group, has had among the lowest attendance in the PCL for the last two seasons.  When the Astros' player development agreement with its AAA affiliate expires after a given season, Houston could sign a new player development agreement with Opening Day Partners. This agreement would be possible since ODP would own AAA affiliation rights as a result of their purchase of the Las Vegas team.  There are a restricted number of affiliation rights(AAA has 30).

I assume that there is an approval process involved at the PCL (and perhaps MLB) level to approve the sale and movement of a franchise. One issue during this process would be the size of Constellation Field.  My  understanding is that the Skeeters have 6000 fixed seats. I know that Round Rock was required to expand Dell Diamond when they moved up from AA to AAA.  I am not sure of the exact number, but Dell Diamond was expanded to more than 10,000 fixed seats. If Opening Day Partners could overcome its size issue(expand its stadium) and be approved, the Las Vegas team could move to Sugar Land, where it would be the Astros' AAA affiliate. 

This scenario assumes that Opening Day Partners, who currently owns four teams in the independent Atlantic League including the Skeeters, would be interested in having one of its franchises become affiliated, and the Astros would be interested in partnering with them at some point in the future.  However, Sugar Land is not the only option.

Another entity could build a stadium for a team in different location in the Houston area.  In light of the fact that Atlanta's AAA affiliate Gwinnett County (population 800,000) is less than a one-hour drive from Turner Field,  it is reasonable to think that communities such as The Woodlands, Katy, Pearland, Kingwood, Conroe and Baytown among others could be legitimate candidates for such a venture.

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