Posts Tagged ‘Sugar Land Skeeters’

Skeeters Baseball Getting More Real by The Day

October 13, 2011

Startex Power Field in Sugar Land is Going Up: They've also added some lighting arc posts since these recent aerials were taken too,

I had a nice call from old friend Deacon Jones a couple of days ago. The Deacon is now involved full-time as a Special Assistant to the President of the brand-spanking new Sugar Land Skeeters Independent Atlantic League Baseball Club that starts play in its own new shiny digs in 2012. We had a local baseball research question to pursue together, along with fellow SABR member Tom Murrah. This is just a great time to be in love with baseball historical research in the greater Houston area. We’ve got more going on these days than you can shake a Babe Ruth big stick at – and we just keep coming up with new ideas and new people who are eager to chase down leads on what was true or false in baseball history – and all the way deep into the 19th century, if that’s how far back the question goes.

For now, at least, the energy of baseball’s local past and future seem to be feeding upon each other. Even as I write, and as you later, but sooner read these words, the muscle of new support for expanding the presence of organized professional baseball in the greater Houston area goes on out in Sugar Land. Startex Power Field, the new home of the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters is going up on the plains south of the big City of Houston off Highway 59 South near the site of the old Imperial Sugar plant. Sugar Land is getting ready to field a team in 2012 as the newest member of the independent Atlantic League as a representative of the entire Houston community.

Offering good clean family fun, the Skeeters are not here to compete with the major league Houston Astros, but to augment the availability of the game as a spectator option for people who live inside the loop to those who have moved to the hinterlands of suburbia. New interest in the Skeeters can only amplify interest among people who have never previously even dreamed of going downtown to see a big league game. It is a win-win run for both the established MLB club and the new independent league venture.

If you are already an Astros fan, the Skeeters offer a tasteful picture of what the future of baseball may look like – and also a sketch on what minor league ball has always felt like on the intimate fan level. If you are primarily a new fan of the Skeeters, on the other hand, you are about to get an appetite-whetting taste of just how good the game can be played at the major league level (during normal times for the Astros).

The Doc and The Deac

Deacon Jones says that people are buying Skeeter season tickets like hot cakes these days and he advises interested parties to get on the website and take a special look for themselves at both the progress of construction and the offerings to fans that still exist during this early period of prime options on seating and special event arrangements. There is also a whole lot of contact information there on how you can get in touch with Deacon Jones (or just about anyone else who is connected with the Skeeters) by either phone or e-mail. And, hey – a five-minute talk with Deacon will just about make your day, anyway – even if you don’t buy anything.

Here’s the link to the Sugar Land Skeeters website:

http://sugarlandskeeters.com/index.cfm

Baseball is a great game – and one of the big reasons for its greatness is the presence of good people like Deacon Jones. Deacon Jones played the professional game at a high level – and now he represents the game at the highest level of gifting to others. When you speak with Deacon, he gives you the voice and soul of the game from the heart of all the caring that he has put into baseball over the period of his lifetime.

And as the old song goes: “Who could ask for anything more?”

The Skeeters Are Coming to Sugar Land in 2012

December 2, 2010

Artist Rendering: The $40 million, 7,000 seat Sugar Land Stadium set to open in 2012 as the 70-home games per season base of the independent Atlantic League "Skeeters".

It’s official! The new independent league baseball club down in Sugar Land finally has a name that matches our area to a “T”. The Sugar Land Skeeters will begin play in the fairly-new-itself independent Atlantic League in 2012.

The Atlantic League started play in 1998 as direct result of a conflict that popped up within organized baseball. When the New York Mets objected to owner Frank Boulton’s decision in the late 1990s to move his Albany-Colonie Yankees to Long Island because of the former’s claim to their minor league territorial rights in that area, Boulton bolted from organized baseball to form his own small independent circuit and made the move anyway.

From the start, the new Atlantic League was modeled after the old Pacific Coast League. They played more games, they signed a large number of superior ability players, and they dedicated themselves to building small, but first class ballparks for their various clubs. The thirteen year result of this effort now finds the previously all eastern seaboard circuit expanding into the Houston area in 2012 with the start of the new Sugar Land Skeeters operation.

Here’s a brief look at the league membership as it stands with the 2012 inclusion of new clubs here and in Loudoun, Virginia. Each new club is preparing to play a 140-game home and road games schedule in 2012. Sugar Land is the first of four-to-six clubs that will be created to form a new Western Division of the league:

Current Atlantic League franchises

Team Names (Years Founded/Joined League)

Freedom Division

Lancaster (PA) Barnstormers (2003/2005)

Road (no home) Warriors (1998/1998)

Somerset (NJ) Patriots (1998/1998)

York (PA) Revolution (2006/2007)

Liberty Division

Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish (1997/1998)

Camden (NJ) Riversharks (1999/2001)

Long Island (NY) Ducks (1998/2000)

Southern Maryland (MD) Blue Crabs (2006/2008)

Future Teams

Loudoun (VA) Hounds (2010/2012)

Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters (2010/2012)

Sugar Land Stadium. The City of Sugar Land is building the 7,000 seat capacity venue that will house the new baseball club. With an estimated price tag of $40 million, the stadium will not be funded with general fund tax dollars, however, $30 million dollars will instead be paid for with a portion of sales tax revenues that may only be used for economic development purposes. The $10 million dollar balance will come from Opening Day Partners, a Lancaster, Pa.-based ballpark developer that owns and operates several minor league baseball teams, including the new operation in Sugar Land. The stadium will be located on a 21-26 acre tract, northeast of the Highway 6 and Highway 90A intersection.

Field Personnel. The club has yet to sign any players, but players with ig league and high league experience and potential will be in the signing sights of Skeeter scouts. The field manager could end up being someone with a recognizable local name too. Former Astros Terry Puhl and Norm Miller, plus former Astros manager Hal Lanier have all been mentioned as possible managerial candidates.

Astros & Skeeters. The Skeeters are not a threat to the Astros, but they are capable of stoking further interest in professional baseball among people who never drive downtown to see a more expensive major league game. In fact, some of these people may now be stimulated to go see a major league game for the first time as a result of their experience with the Skeeters. It will be up to the Astros to produce a club and and a plan that makes that marketing connection a harvest of attracted new interest in baseball.

The worst thing the Astros might do here would be to treat the new Skeeters club as though it didn’t exist. Who knows? Maybe the Astros will one day have a AAA or AA club operating in some near region like Sugar Land, Katy, or The Woodlands. – It sure would simplify certain player reassignments during the long season, would it not? And, if the Astros happened to own these particular clubs too, it would make for even more lucrative opportunities to treat the home base fan population with an ongoing look at coming attractions.

Those are just my thoughts. All I know for sure while we’re waiting to see if the Sugar Land operation can succeed in the Houston area is that I will be out there to see some games, if they actually do start playing. The lure of night baseball in the small ballpark under open skies is just irresistible – even in the heat of Houston summers – and even with Skeeters on the loose.