Minor League Baseball could be sliding into the Hub City as early as 2005. A prominent group of investors out of Dallas has targeted Lubbock as a prime location for a farm team. But the deal is still in the very preliminary stages, and nothing is final at this point.
If a deal can be hammered out, this could be a grand slam for Lubbock and Texas Tech. It would bring a AA baseball team to Lubbock, which would be the highest level of professional athletics, ever to call the Hub City home.
The boys of minor league baseball's Texas League could be swinging away in the Hub City as soon as Summer 2005. Texas Tech Coach Larry Hays has been a small part of the lengthy, complex process. Hays says the key to this deal is the public realizing this is not the same kind of league that the failed Lubbock Crickets belonged to. "The worst mistake anyone could make is to say, 'Oh no, the Crickets.' This is not the same. This is the real deal. This is a situation where you're seeing kids who are about ready to break into the big leagues," says Hays.
News of the deal broke Thursday night here on NewsChannel 11, and by Friday morning, information was all over the Lubbock airwaves and newspapers. But contrary to some reports, the investment group has yet to acquire the rights to any AA team including the El Paso Diablos, who were mentioned in at least one report. "We have not acquired El Paso. And for anyone to mention them puts us in a compromised position," says Primary Investor and Dallas Banker Bob Mittendorf. Mittendorf says any and all deals are still pending, and at this point, misinterpretations may have thrown a major kink into our minor league dreams.
"I'm trying to stay on top of things that have been so grossly misinterpreted in the press. There's so much in the sequence of business steps, and if one of those steps is truncated, it can all fall apart," says Mittendorf.
What is truth at this point is that earlier this week a delegation from Lubbock did visit with investors in Dallas.
Also true, the group from Dallas is now conducting a feasibility study on Texas Tech's Dan Law Field. The question? Can Tech's stadium be updated, renovated and expanded to meet the needs of Minor League Baseball? If 'the Law' were to be renovated for the Minors, it would require a major overhaul. A minor league stadium would need chair back seating, sky boxes, better accessibility and another dressing room among other things.
According to Hays, that just might not be feasible at Dan Law.
The feasibility study will be complete in a week. If 'the Law' can't be renovated, the investment group will start looking at sites around town for a new stadium. The group is already in talks with the premiere architectural firm that built First American Bank Ballpark in Midland, and more than 100 other major and minor league baseball stadiums.
If a new venue were built, it would undoubtedly be shared by Texas Tech baseball. Hays says he's happy with Dan Law, but a new $24 to $25 million stadium does stir excitement. "I'd be willing to adjust," says Hays.
Mittendorf says preliminary studies indicate Lubbock has the demographics, economy and community support to fuel a minor league team.