Tucson officials see Triple-A Baseball success in El Paso's future
Tucson, A.Z. (KTSM) -- The AAA Padres began their final season in Tucson's Kino Stadium Friday before their move in 2014 to the new Downtown stadium in El Paso.
But with Tucson having a metropolitan population of over a million people, almost double that of El Paso, why do Tucson say El Paso will succeed where Tucson failed?
"This ballpark should have been built Downtown. If this ballpark was built Downtown we would still have Spring Training. We still would have a AAA team. Things would be much different," said Padres GM Mike Feder.
Tucson City Councilman Paul Cunningham added, "we had a choice to build it Downtown and not Downtown. Unfortunately we made the decision, which seemed like a good decision at the time, kind of off the beaten path."
Kino Stadium is owned by Pima County and is left to find ways to pay off over $13.5 million still owed on the vacant stadium. Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias does not feel the location of the stadium is bad, but says El Paso should follow the Downtown model Minor League Baseball presented El Paso for construction of their stadium.
"If there is a model that shows you can be successful in a Downtown area if you do these certain things and you have the cooperation of Downtown neighborhoods and residential places Downtown, I think that really helps," said Elias.
"If they are accompanying that with reasonably solid Downtown development, as in housing, both market value affordable and senior, if they are also accompanying that with a business district to attract businesses Downtown, it will be successful," Cunningham agreed. "It's not just about the amenities in the stadium, or the fanciness of the stadium. It's really about where that stadium is and I think if you are doing it Downtown, you're making a good decision and avoiding the mistake that Tucson made."
"I'm excited for the people of El Paso. I believe they deserve it. The ownership stepped up, they put together a great plan with a Downtown stadium, which Tucson should have down 14, 15, 16 year ago, I believe it's going to be really important in the community and I think a lot of good things are going to come out of it," said Feder.
With the final season in Tucson officially under way and with construction of the ballpark in El Paso officially underway, you can officially begin the countdown to the first pitch in 2014.