The other week, Mayor Jeff Longwell of Wichita, KS, stated the city will announce a minor league affiliation by the end of the year. A bold statement. Is Wichita playing bluff poker or does the city have a trick on its sleeve?
After I read the announcement, I have been thinking: “Which team of which league could possibly move to Wichita?” It is very unlikely that it will be a Texas League team as the league doesn’t consider Kansas to be in its territory. So does the Midwest League.
When it comes to logistics, the Texas League would make sense. Witchita is situated in the Southeast of Kansas about 176 miles from the closest Texas League team, the Tulsa Drillers. The Midwest League would not make sense as the nearest Midwest League team for Wichita is the Burlington Bees in Iowa, which is about 500 miles away from Wichita.
So we can scratch the Midwest League as a possible league to come to Wichita. But the Texas League would make sense, despite the statements of the league itself. But there will only be one team on the move in the coming years: the San Antonio Missions and they will head to Amarillo to make room for the Colorado Springs SkySox (more about that later). But could it be that the city of Wichita is negotiating with the Elmore Sports Group about a possible move of the Missions? It is unlikely, but you’ll never know.
Currently, Wichita is home to the independent American Association franchise Wichita Wingnuts. The team is faring pretty well but will have to move as soon as a new affliated baseball club will land in the city.
Another team that may be on the move, is the Mobile BayBears. The club has been acquired by an Arizona based investment group that is willing to move the team. Prime candidate to lure the BayBears is Madison County in the North of the state of Alabama.
The closest Southern League team to Wichita is the Jackson Generals, about 600 miles away. The farthest city is Jacksonville, FL. Jacksonville is over 1,300 miles away from Wichita, a distance you need an airplane for according to the rules of MiLB.
So I think it is pretty fair to say that the Southern League is not an option either.
The most logical step for Wichita is to lure an AAA league team as the league is spread out over the USA. But then again, which team owner would be willing to move to Wichita? The SkySox will be moving to San Antonio, at least that was the intention. But with San Antonio not willing to invest in an AAA ballpark as the city is looking to land an MLS team, perhaps the Elmore Sports Group is looking to expand its horizon and choose for another city than San Antonio.
The New Orleans Baby Cakes renewed their stadium lease in 2015 when the club was still named NO Zephyrs. The new lease runs through 2020, so it is not impossible to call the Baby Cakes a candidate. Their stadium, named Shrine on Airline, is over twenty years old and is not the best looking ballpark. Even though the club has invested in sixteen luxury suites, a swimming pool, two hot tubs, a party shack and a home run porch, it is still lacking the bells and the whistles compared to other newer stadiums.
Another candidate and perhaps the most likely may be the Las Vegas 51s. It is clear the city of Las Vegas wants them out of Cashman Field, and recently some new developments shed a new light on a possible location in nearby Summerlin. But as nothing is engraved in stone there, don’t be surprised if the 51s will be the team on the move.
As soon as the city of Wichita will make the announcement, you will read it here.