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Monday, Sep 01st

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You are here: Minor League News Today's big ballot issue: new ballpark in Sugar Land

Today's big ballot issue: new ballpark in Sugar Land

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With so much attention paid to the presidential race in today's national elections, it was easy to forget about some of the other issues before voters. In the baseball world, a referendum sure to be important in coming years is in Sugar Land, a suburb of Houston, where voters are being asked to approve a entertainment district containing a new minor-league ballpark. With so much attention paid to the presidential race in today's national elections, it was easy to forget about some of the other issues before voters. In the baseball world, a referendum sure to be important in coming years is in Sugar Land, a suburb of Houston, where voters are being asked to approve a entertainment district containing a new minor-league ballpark. It's no secret the owners of the Omaha Royals (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) have talked with Sugar Land officials about a possible move there; we're also guessing the city leaders have been contacted by an independent league or two as well. The proposed Sugar Land Cultural/Entertainment District seems pretty similar to what's been built in Grand Prairie, a suburb of Dallas, over the last few years. Grand Prairie's entertainment district includes the Nokia Theatre, a horse-racing track, and QuikTrip Park at Grand Prairie, the home of the Grand Prairie AirHogs (independent; American Association). In Sugar Land, the proposal is for an arts center, indoor and outdoor concert venues, and a minor-league ballpark. It would be funded by economic-development money already controlled by the city, combined with a local hotel tax of 2 percent, parking revenues and a ticket tax of 10 percent. By our math, this should be more than enough to pay for all the proposed venues over 20 years, allowing city leaders to embark on a fairly large expansion without needing to dip into property taxes or city general funds.
    The big issue is how the Houston Astros would react to an affiliated team basically in its backyard. Truth is, we don't know. We know some team owners who say they can't see the Astros opposing an affiliated team setting up shop, particularly one that can be used to promote the Astros brand. In general, MLB teams have been better in recent years about working with minor-league teams in their backyards, and there are many examples of close, good relationships: the New York Yankees with the Staten Island Yankees, the Boston Red Sox with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and Lowell Spinners, and the Seattle Mariners and the Tacoma Rainiers.