The Pacific Coast League has existed for decades, but a new 16-team version was formed in 1998 when the American Association disbanded.
Three American Association teams aligned with the International League. Five teams (Iowa, Nashville, New Orleans, Omaha and Oklahoma City) migrated west.
Other PCL newcomers in 1998 were Colorado Springs (expansion team), Fresno (moved from Class A) and Memphis (moved from Double-A).
Fifteen years later, the PCL is stable. Thirteen of the “original” 16 remain today.
Some teams have partnerships that predate the 1998 merger. Omaha has been associated with the Royals for 44 years. The Cubs' Triple-A team has been in Des Moines for 33 years. Albuquerque had a six-year hiatus but has been the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate 34 of the past 40 years.
Still, on occasion, there is change. New stadiums usually are the catalyst.
Next season El Paso replaces Tucson. Working out a deal with the Padres, El Paso passed a bond tax for a $60 million, 7,000-seat stadium that debuts in 2014.
Four years ago, Reno joined the PCL after building a 9,100-seat stadium. Tucson once again was involved. Tucson had been the Diamondbacks' Triple-A affiliate for a decade before the Diamondbacks moved to Reno.
A new stadium helped Fresno move to the PCL 15 years ago. It's been an overwhelming success. Ten consecutive years the Grizzlies have finished in the top three in PCL attendance. Tucson, now left without a team, is discussing raising funds to build a new stadium, hoping to be a PCL candidate in five years.
This season, the Mets' Triple-A team played in Las Vegas after moving over from the International League. Toronto wanted to be aligned with Buffalo. The Blue Jays worked out a deal that forced the Mets to relocate to Las Vegas.
The other change the past decade involved Oklahoma City. Home to the Texas Rangers' Triple-A team for 28 years, Rangers team president Nolan Ryan helped move the Triple-A franchise to Round Rock, which in 2005 replaced Edmonton in the PCL.
For now, 16 PCL cities in place are solid for the foreseeable future.
Bottom line is the RedHawks will play in the PCL for years to come.
“The Pacific Coast League actually owns rights to this market place,” said RedHawks president/general manager Michael Byrnes. “I can't imagine a scenario where we wouldn't be associated with the Pacific Coast League.”