Houston Astros owner Jim Crane said Thursday at training camp in Kissimmee, Fla., he is contemplating moving their Triple-A affiliate to an area north of Houston, according to a Houston Chronicle blog.
Nothing is imminent. Last September, the Astros signed a two-year deal with the Oklahoma City RedHawks, who are run by Mandalay Sports Entertainment.
Regardless of the Major League affiliation, the RedHawks will remain in Oklahoma City and play at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
“This is a viable business that’s staying here,” said RedHawks president and general manager Michael Byrnes. “We may have a different partner down the road if that’s what the Astros want to explore, but the RedHawks as an organization will continue to be in Bricktown.”
Crane is considering relocating their Triple-A affiliate to The Woodlands, a suburb 30 miles north of Houston. That area currently doesn’t have a stadium. Crane also would have to purchase a different Triple-A franchise.
“Something closer could certainly enhance the brand,” Crane told the Chronicle. “Our group likes it. We’ve studied it, looked at the numbers... You want to try and stay out far enough so you don’t really distract from your big league team.”
Oklahoma City was home for the Texas Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate for 28 years before Nolan Ryan purchased a team in Round Rock, Texas, and moved the team there.
After the Rangers left OKC, the RedHawks signed a two-year deal with the Astros. Last fall, the RedHawks signed a two-year extension with the Astros that runs through the 2014 season.
The Rangers are an example of a minor league affiliate being near the Major League team. The Rangers’ Double-A affiliate, the RoughRiders, is located in Frisco 40 miles northeast of The Ballpark in Arlington.
“(Our) Triple-A club is owned by a private equity company. That doesn’t make any sense,” Crane said. “We’re in (Oklahoma City), which is a good spot. We’re doing fine there. But if we can improve that as that contract expires in a couple years we are all over those opportunities.”