Is the Atlantic League Expanding to The Woodlands? Maybe
The Atlantic League exists because the New York Mets didn't want the New York Yankees to have a minor league team in Long Island. Bud Selig had yet to become Major League Baseball commissioner for life and Fay Vincent had been forced out by the major league owners. So with nobody around to block the Mets' hissy fit, Long Island was out of luck.
Are the Skeeters getting some company?
But Frank Boulton, the man who dreamed of having a minor league team in Long Island, had a plan. A plan to start his own minor league. A league unaffiliated with the major leagues. An independent league. Thus was formed the Atlantic League, an independent minor league of eight baseball teams based primarily on the East Coast.
Primarily, that is, but for one team, the Sugar Land Skeeters. And because of the success of the league, and the success of the second-year Skeeters, the Atlantic League is looking to expand to 12 teams, with those expansion teams based in Texas.
Peter Kirk, the president of the league, has been talking to prospective ownership groups in Texas, and he says that six Texas communities have been out to Sugar Land to study the Skeeters. To look into how the ballpark was built, how the operation is run, how the team operates.
"You can't sell something like this," Kirk told Hair Balls. "You have to let them look into the opportunities and make up their own minds."
He's stated in past interviews that the league is looking to put a team in Fort Worth, and he confirmed that The Woodlands, Baytown and an unspecified community on the north side of Houston have been among those checking out Sugar Land in the hopes of getting a team.
"You need a good demographic," he said. "You need 300,000 to 400,000 people within an easy drive of the ballpark. You need a community with lots of families."
And those requirements seem to fit perfectly with The Woodlands and other communities surrounding Houston. The communities also need to be able to follow the Sugar Land footprint when it comes to the stadium, which was built with a combination of public funds and private equity, and was built to serve as a center point of the community, hosting not only baseball games but other sporting events, concerts, conventions, high school and college baseball, various school events and so on.