The head of the Pacific Coast League doubts a move by the Colorado Springs Sky Sox to Texas is imminent, and doesn't expect the Sky Sox or any of the league's 15 other teams to relocate from their existing cities for at least two to three years.
PCL president Branch Rickey said Friday that relocations depend on many factors and no assumptions should be made about a team's plans or intentions.
"If I look through it through my lenses, I don't anticipate a single franchise in our league is going to be in a different city than it is in today in '16, '17 and I'll throw '18 in there, too," Rickey said.
His comments came in the wake of a report that the Elmore Sports Group, the Sky Sox's owner, will meet with San Antonio's City Council next week to discuss moving the Triple-A team out of Colorado Springs.
The Sky Sox, the top minor league affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers after many years as the Colorado Rockies' No. 1 farm team, have been in the Springs since 1988.
But San Antonio officials reportedly want to use the lure of a possible new downtown stadium to attract a Triple-A team. Currently, San Antonio has a Double-A team - also owned by the Elmore Group.
If a deal were struck between San Antonio and the Elmore group, the owner likely would move the Sky Sox to that city and relocate its Double A team - possibly to Amarillo, Texas.
Dave Elmore, head of the Elmore Sports Group, was approached this year by someone in San Antonio who wanted to gauge his interest in moving the club, Rickey said, based on what Elmore told him. Rickey said he didn't know if city officials or civic leaders approached Elmore, who didn't respond to several calls from The Gazette.
But Rickey said Elmore also was approached by San Antonio officials five years ago - and nothing happened.
Rickey, PCL president since 1998 and grandson of the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers executive, said teams routinely evaluate their business interests. The costs of running a team are significant and drive many decisions, he said.
And it's not unheard of for a team to listen if someone calls, Rickey said. In the case of San Antonio, it's an attractive market that could appeal to anybody, he said.
A statement by the Sky Sox this week said that if San Antonio, as the 37th largest TV market in the country, "calls and says they would like to talk about a downtown stadium and the possibility of bringing Triple-A baseball to San Antonio, it would be imprudent as business owners not to listen."
Yet, the Sky Sox have been financially successful in the Springs, which is the former home to the PCL's headquarters, Rickey said.
"It's a very viable franchise," he said. "There's not a compelling need from the side of business difficulty for that club to have to do anything."
The Springs - in the middle of three time zones that the PCL covers - also is conveniently located as the league schedules games, he said.
A team that might want to relocate needs an overwhelming majority of the PCL's 16 teams to approve a move, Rickey said.
"If it got to that point, there would be a burden on a club to convince its fellow members why this would be advantageous to the membership in general," Rickey said. "The league doesn't want to take a step backward."
Regardless of pros and cons, Rickey warned about reading too much into what might happen; as PCL president, he said he doesn't want to engage in conjecture. During his years with the PCL and with the now-defunct American Association, Rickey said he watched teams explore moves that ultimately went nowhere.
"Trying to forecast that a team is going to relocate when there are so many unknowns in front of that equation is a thing you want to be very cautious about," Rickey said "That's what I'm doing."