The San Antonio Missions minor league baseball team will soon be under new ownership, according to City Council documents released Thursday.

Major League Baseball has approved the sale of the team, owned since 1987 by California-based Elmore Sports Group, to a group of local investors doing business as Designated Bidders LLC, led by Bruce Hill as principal manager. The sale is set to take effect Nov. 15.

Hill is an attorney and Spurs Sports & Entertainment partner. 

The other partners in the Designated Bidders group include Weston Urban CEO Randy Smith, former Clear Channel Communications executive Bob Cohen and developer and founder of Rackspace, Graham Weston. 

The Missions, who compete in the Texas League and are the Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, lease Wolff Stadium from the City of San Antonio, and the team’s current owners must get approval from City Council to reassign the lease to the new ownership group.

“Designated Bidders, LLC is excited about the opportunity to meet with the San Antonio City Council about the assignment of the Wolff Stadium lease and to discuss our plan to bring experienced local ownership and proven sports industry leadership to the Missions,” said the new owners in a statement. 

“Our goal is to ensure that professional baseball in San Antonio remains strong and contributes mightily to the quality of life in our community for generations to come.”

The Elmore group has held the stadium lease with the city since 1994, renewing under various terms since that time. If approved, the new lease would be in effect through September 2031. However, news of the ownership change follows months of rumors that an investor group was eyeing downtown parcels for a potential new baseball stadium.

The Missions host about 80 games a year at 28-year-old Wolff Stadium, with an average of 2,500 baseball fans in attendance at each game. 

For each ticket sold, the city receives $1 in facility access fees, which this year amounted to about $200,000. The lease also generates $100,000 in annual rental fees. A council memo states that the new lease assignment will continue those terms.

Improvements to the stadium this year include nearly $150,000 to replace stadium field padding, as required by the MLB, with the city bearing 70% of the cost and the Missions covering the remaining amount. 

The Missions also spent $1.3 million to replace the video scoreboard and ribbon boards at the stadium. The city’s fiscal year 2023 six-year capital budget calls for spending another $6.25 million to remodel the clubhouse, bringing it up to Major League Baseball standards.  

The Designated Bidders group has said the Missions will be operated by Ryan-Sanders Baseball, a minor league baseball organization that owns the Round Rock Express and Corpus Christi Hooks teams.

CEO Reid Ryan, a former college and professional baseball player, is the son of Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan. 

Speculation that a local group of investors was looking to assemble parcels of land downtown for a new stadium began to circulate over the summer

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, for whom the stadium is named, has sought support for a downtown stadium as a replacement for the outdated stadium on U.S. Highway 90 West, confirmed the rumors, adding that he would be glad to see it situated near the San Pedro Creek Culture Park now under development.

Weston Urban has several major residential developments in progress near the creek project and in the urban core, including a 32-story apartment tower at 300 Main St. and a 258-unit, mixed-used development adjacent the creek on West Commerce Street in the Zona Cultural.

The sale of the team to Designated Bidders is expected to close Nov. 15 pending the city’s approval of the lease assignment, which will be considered at the Nov. 10 Council meeting. 

The Missions finished the 2022 season with a 68-68 record. The 2023 season opens April 6 in Tulsa with the first home game on April 11.

Shari Biediger has been covering business and development for the San Antonio Report since 2017. A graduate of St. Mary’s University, she has worked in the corporate and nonprofit worlds in San Antonio...