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Tuesday, Sep 16th

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Pacific Coast League expected to decide El Paso bid for baseball this week

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Proposed El Paso ballpark

The Pacific Coast League is expected to decide this week whether to allow the sale of the Tucson Padres to a group seeking to move the franchise to a new downtown El Paso ballpark.

The principals behind MountainStar Sports Group made their pitch to PCL officials less than two weeks ago, laying out their plans for the team, the advantages of the El Paso market and the status of a proposed downtown ballpark. And while there's been some inevitable opposition arising against public financing of a new downtown ballpark -- the position from MountainStar Sports Group is that a ballpark is inevitable, even if voters reject a fall ballot question on raising hotel taxes to pay for the facility -- so far elected officials have been supportive of the project, which has the opportunity to transform the western side of downtown El Paso.

Under the plan, a new $50-million ballpark could open for the 2014 season. The T-Padres, meanwhile, just signed a lease to stay at Kino Stadium for the 2013 season.

"The plan is that if we acquire the team, they will continue to play where they're playing today until we have the stadium built," Paul Foster, one of the four  MountainStar Sports Group principals, told the El Paso Times.

A sale of the T-Padres and a subsequent move to El Paso under stable ownership would also bring a new chapter to what has been one of the more problematic franchises for the PCL in the last 15 years. Portland Family Entertainment bought the team and convinced the city to renovate PGE Park, only to see the financial structure of the deal crumble, leaving the city on the hook for unpaid bills. The team was subsequently sold twice as the Portland Beavers before being sold to Jeff Moorad and investors for a move to Escondido, Cal. That plan collapsed, and the team has been in a holding pattern in Tucson, where Mike Feder and crew have done a pretty good job of running the team under some uncertain circumstances.

Image courtesy of the City of El Paso.

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