The Elmore Sports Group, owners of the San Antonio Missions, announced Wednesday that the team will move to Amarillo to play in a new, $45 million stadium for the 2019 season.
In their place at Nelson Wolff Stadium, a Triple-A team currently based in Colorado Springs, Colo., will relocate to San Antonio.
With 112 seasons of play in San Antonio and more than 100 of those seasons as a member for the Double-A Texas League, the Missions will join the Pacific Coast League (PCL) as a Triple-A team.
“It’s a positive step forward on Triple-A ball, a caliber of baseball that has major league players that go between Triple-A and major league, so it’s another degree of baseball. It’s great for San Antonio,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff told the Rivard Report. “There may be some modifications to the stadium or an effort to build a new one. I’m not sure which way that will go.”
The PCL is one level of play from the Major Leagues. In addition to games against new cities like Las Vegas, Nashville, New Orleans, Memphis, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, and Oklahoma City, the Triple-A Missions will be able to renew rivalries with the Texas cities of Austin/Round Rock and El Paso. In addition to the new stadium slated for completion in time for the move, the team will be given a new name and identity, according to Baseball America.
The Double-A Missions will play their final season in the Texas League in 2018. Even with the move to Triple-A in 2019, the Missions will continue to be led by President Burl Yarbrough and his staff, as they have been for the previous 30 seasons.
“I am thrilled to be able to lead the Missions and our fan base into a new era of Professional Baseball in San Antonio,” Yarbrough said in a statement.
But for longtime Missions fans, like Susan Tschirhart-Fregeau, it’s not happy news.
“To hear the San Antonio Missions are headed to Amarillo is almost like hearing the Spurs are leaving town,” she said. “Although they will still play some of their games here on their home turf, I think many fans are wondering what this means for their future. The Missions are a staple of San Antonio. They are a part of everyone’s childhood, and I know I will miss going to their games.”
For now, the Missions will continue to play their home games at Nelson Wolff Stadium.
“While we have not yet determined what the specific baseball stadium needs are to advance to Triple-A, nor have we secured private sector development partners or a stadium development plan, we will begin that process immediately,” Yarbrough stated.
In one of his first official acts as mayor, Ron Nirenberg expressed his excitement for Triple-A baseball.
“San Antonio has a long and rich history, and this move takes us to the next level. We have a good relationship with the Missions owner, the Elmore Sports Group, and have had discussions with them about bringing a Triple-A team to San Antonio. We understand that Wolff Stadium has been approved for Triple-A play in the short run.
“As far as any new stadium is concerned, the Elmore Sports Group has not yet presented the City with a stadium development plan that includes a private investment team, nor has a specific site been selected for a new stadium development. Until we see all of that, I have no further comment. We look forward to hearing more about their plans in the near future.”
“To build on the team’s already high standing in this market will give the new Missions and new venture even greater credibility,” PCL President Branch Rickey stated. “In recent years our League has had remarkable success in working with municipal officials and civic leaders to spark revitalization and new development in quite a number of other cities. The success of these other projects prompts natural speculation and confidence that something similar can and will happen in this city.”
In the past 30 years under the Elmore Sports Group ownership, the Missions have contributed more than $10 million in cash and in-kind services to area charitable organizations.
All of the moves are contingent upon final approval from Minor League Baseball, the Pacific Coast League, and Texas League.
The San Antonio Missions (42-30) play the Midland Rockhounds (35-37) at Wolff Stadium on Thursday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m.