When former owner Jeff Moorad purchased their predecessors from Merritt Paulson after the Portland Beavers failed in three attempts to secure a place to play in the Rose City in 201, the plan was for the team to play a year in Tucson while a new stadium was built in the San Diego suburb of Escondido.
Unfortunately when the California Supreme Court ruled that the state legislature could end the funding of redevelopment agencies, it also ended Escondido’s quest for minor league baseball.
The Tucson Padres, despite the best efforts of a skeleton front office, never really had a chance to make a legitimate go of it. The team was burdened from the onset of being perceived as being seen as only “passing through” and their venue, Kino Veteran’s Stadium, was close to nothing downtown and had all the charm of the electrical plant it was next too.
So what had been initially intended as a pit stop for a season grew into a three year sojourn.
In September of 2012 Jeff Moorad, after selling his interest in the major league club, also found a buyer for his AAA franchise in MountainStar Sports Group, a local ownership group from El Paso, Texas. They agreed to purchase the team for $20 million dollars and made a commitment to build a new stadium downtown for 2013.
This April will end San Diego’s odyssey of finding a permanent home for its Triple-A team.
We caught up with Brad Taylor, the General Manager of the recently named El Paso Chihuahuas on what to expect for the newest member of the Padres’ system.
Why is baseball going to work better in El Paso this time and what have been the problems in the past?
Brad Taylor: One, it did pretty well when we were an AA affiliate in the past and Jim Paul and his group did a great job. The other difference is this is AAA baseball, you have some of the best players in the world.
El Paso has had independent ball for the past few years since the Diamondbacks left in 2004 which it has supported pretty well. Additionally we will have a beautiful new stadium and plan on having a lot of fun promotionally.
Can you tell us a little bit about how the MountainStar Sports Group came to acquire the Tucson Padres?
Brad Taylor: It’s a group of local owners from El Paso who have been very active in the community in the past and wanted to bring something fun to the city. They hired Alan Ledford as their president and then went looking for a team to buy and found the Tucson Padres.
So many minor league stadiums seem to be very similar; in the dimensions and just their overall look. How will El Paso’s stadium be different than the rest?
Brad Taylor: We plan to try to make our park into a variety of different neighborhoods in the stadium for fans to enjoy the game. We will have a grass bern for people that just want to come out and sit under the sun or the stars and enjoy the game. We will have a picnic area down the left field line and the stadium will also be asymmetrical. We will have more seats down the third base line than on the first base side so people on the third base side will have the sun at their backs.
The stadium will have three different levels with different price points for everyone. As for food options we are working with Ovations, which has just done a great job at every place that they have been, and will include many of the local businesses in their food options.
The food is really good down here. The downside is I think I have put on fifteen pounds since I moved here.
Does the ballpark have a name yet?
Brad Taylor: It does not have a name yet but we are working with multiple bids and should have something soon.
Are you still on target for the opening date of April 11?
Brad Taylor: Yes, and if everything keeps going smooth we will make it. I’ve never been around construction projects that didn’t come down to the last minute. The steel is going up, and it will be tight, but it will be worth it.
What is your background?
Brad Taylor: Five years ago I moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky and helped open their new ballpark where I was the General Manager and team President. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed working with the Tampa Bay organization. Before that I was with the Trenton Thunder for nine years, which is in the Yankees organization and is one of the best run teams in the country.
When the El Paso opportunity became available I was very fortunate to be able to come here. I am really excited to be working in this community and with this ownership group.
I just think it’s really going to be a great time for everyone.