/ Modified oct 9, 2013 2:36 p.m.

Future of Baseball in Southern AZ May Be in Limbo

As stadiums seat empty and amid future move of the Tucson Padres to El Paso for the 2014 season.


On August 29, the Tucson Padres played what is more-than-likely their final game at Kino Sports Complex.

The team is set to relocate to El Paso, Texas for the 2014 season. However, they may still use Kino if their new stadium is not finished by the start of the season.

The move means Tucson is, once again, without a team.

It was merely 3 years ago that the Tucson Sidewinders (previously called the Toros) left for Reno, Nev. after more than 50 years in Tucson.

But the Padres were always supposed to be a temporary team.

“The team was supposed to move to Escondido," said Mike Feder, the Padres' general manager. “Well, one year became two years, and then the state of California became all screwed up financially and the project fell apart. The Padres' owners decided to sell the club. What was supposed to be one year became three, and (now) the club was sold to an El Paso interest.”

Feder’s days in Tucson baseball date back to the Toros' days at Hi Corbett Field.

Feder said he believes that a big part of Tucson’s lack of a baseball team is Kino Sports Complex.

“For a AAA team to return to Tucson, it can’t be at this location," he said.

It’s not just teams one step shy of the major leagues that are no longer calling Southern Arizona home. Semi-professional and independent league teams are struggling or leaving ballparks in Bisbee, Douglas, and Nogales as well.

These stadiums are now becoming the home for other local teams. For instance, the use of Hi Corbett Field by the University of Arizona, and the extended use of Bisbee’s historic Warren Ballpark by Bisbee High School.

Warren Ballpark was donated to Bisbee Unified School District in the 1950s, and it is now home to the high school's baseball and football games.

“It’s a major source of pride, but it’s also a lot of work,” said Darin Giltner, athletic director at Bisbee High School.

To help curb the cost of that work, the nonprofit group Friends of Warren Ballpark raises funds to keep up the stadium.

For the past 5 years, this government and nonprofit cooperative has worked well in Bisbee.

These large parks are now also being used for concerts, special events, and other sporting events, such as football and soccer.

But since those events are not the specified use for these stadiums, they are not used as regularly as it is thought they should be, making the future of these stadiums rest in limbo.

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