The Tucson Padres ability to move to El Paso, Texas will be decided this week. For those that have been following the situation, the T-Pads, have been up for sale by their owner Jeff Moorad since California killed redevelopment earlier this spring (note: this is a separate sale from the MLB team who is still majority owned by Moores, not Moorad). The leading group to purchase the AAA club is a group called MoutainStar Sports based in El Paso, Texas. MountainStar has already received preliminary approval from El Paso's city council on a ballpark plan that would see a 9000 seat, $50 million ballpark replace El Paso's city hall in downtown El Paso. The stadium plan is going to the voters this fall and is seen as a likely easy win. Even if not MountainStar and the city have expressed they have a contingency plan that would still allow the ballpark to get built. With the two parties seeming so sure of themselves, the Pacific Coast League has seen fit to decide whether the move from Tucson to El Paso (and by extension the sale itself) can go forward by the end of this week.
More after the jump...
Since the T-Pods recently signed a lease extension in Tucson running through the 2013 season and the El Paso ballpark won't be finished until 2014 (and El Paso's other ballpark isn't big enough for AAA) the future for the team is starting to take shape. Assuming the PCL grants approval this week for the move, Moorad will sell to MountainStar who will maintain the team in Tucson in limbo for a year while they get their ballpark squared away in El Paso. Normally you might be concerned about playing a lame duck year in a city, but the T-Pads are already far and away the worst attended team in the PCL only averaging 2,922 fans a game (for comparison the Padres Single A affiliate in Lake Elsinore averages 3,430 and the PCL leading Rock Hounds average 8,389). After they get the ballpark squared away after November and the move happens in 2014 we'll see either the El Paso Padres, the return of the El Paso Diablos into affiliated ball, or some other team emerge as the Padres AAA franchise. Which is good in that it finally gives our AAA team some direction they've been lacking since Portland when Merritt Paulson lost interest in baseball and turned his attention to soccer.
*UPDATE* 7/13 - The PCL and the El Paso ownership group (MountainStar) announced the league has given MountainStar preliminary approval to move to El Paso pending MountainStar providing the league with a detailed relocation application and the sale from Moorad to MountainStar being finalized. Final approval for the move will come within 30 days of the submission. Additionally MountainStar reportedly already has a deal in place with Moorad for the sale to go forward, likely pending the final approval of the move. The final bit of information that also came out was that MountainStar, through a parent company, has registered the domain name ElPasoPadres.com, possibly hinting that the Padres name will persist at the AAA turning the T-Pads into the El-Pads?