Recently, the Arizona Daily Star* reported that the Tucson Sidewinders are one step closer to moving to Reno.
The Sidewinders aren’t drawing well in Tucson and Reno has offered to build the team a $20 million park.
Why is attendence down in Tucson? That’s up for debate, though one league official has his own ideas.
From the AZ Daily Star:
“You have to consider the fact there’s spring training there, and there’s an oversaturation,” he said. “Tucson is dynamically different (from other PCL markets) because there’s a strong winter population. You’ve also got the other dynamic that people leave to get away from the heat in the summer.”
Umm, actually, scratch that. You do not have to consider that there’s an oversaturation. I mean, does that make any sense? No, it doesn’t.
The reason Tucson fans aren’t going to minor league baseball games in the summer isn’t because they’re tired of baseball once spring training ends.
More likely, it’s because the Sidewinders’ stadium in on the outskirts of the city, in an area that could at best be described as inconvenient. There’s little reason to go to a Sidewinders game besides the game itself. No surrounding restaurants or shopping. If they had built the stadium downtown, like many people suggested, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation now.
But whatever. If the Sidewinders move to Reno, there will be no public outcry. Tucson will survive without minor league baseball.
What will be truly tragic, though, is what will happen next.
The Sidewinders moving to Reno will likely mean the end of spring training baseball in Tucson. Both the White Sox and Diamondbacks play their spring training games at Tucson Electric Park. And the White Sox have already indicated that they want out. But don’t worry, the White Sox have promised to find a replacement tennant before they go. And according to the AZ Star, “the current favorite to replace the White Sox are the Monterrey Sultans of the Mexican League.” Great.
When the White Sox go, that will force the Diamondbacks to find a new home, too, as Tucson Electric Park will likely soon be converted to a concert venue.
That leaves only the Rockies, who play at High-Corbett Field, in Reid Park. The Rockies could stay in Tucson. But if every other Cactus League team is playing in the Phoenix area, don’t count on the Rockies to continue to make the two-hour drive north.
You’re probably thinking, what’s wrong with concentrating all the Cactus league in the Phoenix area?
The answer is, Phoenix blows. Tucson is way, way cooler. It’s got a small town feel, but with great restaurants and bars. It’s like the difference between visiting Orlando, where everything is new and uniform, and Dodgertown, where everything is authentic.
Plus, Tucson is actually cooler than Phoenix — by an average of about 5 degrees.
Of course, I’m biased. I live and work in Tucson. But as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing like spring training baseball in Tucson. And soon, it will be gone.
*Full disclosure: I work for the AZ Daily Star. I cover features and nightlife.