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Sky Sox plan ballpark renovations and say they're staying in Colorado Springs, but could they land in Kansas?

April 13, 2017 Updated: April 14, 2017 at 10:47 am
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A young fan stands behind the new safety net along the first and third baseline to protect fans from foul balls Thursday, April 6, 2017, at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs, Colo. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Workers at Security Service field replaced about 250 light fixtures hanging above the stadium on Thursday.

In the coming months, a revamp of the scoreboard will be competed for roughly $700,000 that will bring high definition to a screen nearly four times larger than its current size.

The Sky Sox are saying they intend to stay in the city, and the $1 million they're pouring into their venue near Barnes and Powers would seem to back that claim.

"We're building for a long future in Colorado Springs," general manager Tony Ensor said Thursday.

Sky Sox second baseman Eric Sogard runs onto the field during the introduction of the 2017 team before the season opener against Omaha Thursday, April 6, 2017, at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs, Colo. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Sky Sox second baseman Eric Sogard runs onto the field during the introduction of the 2017 team before the season opener against Omaha Thursday, April 6, 2017, at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs, Colo. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

This has been the stance maintained by the team's local representatives through the past 15 months as talk of moving the team reached a crescendo. Even as owner David Elmore appeared before the San Antonio city council in April 2016 and announced an intention to move the team there for the 2019 season, Ensor cautioned that no move was imminent and many financial variables remained in play.

It appears he was correct. Media reports from San Antonio from the onset reflected a lack of enthusiasm for the city to raise money for a new stadium - a requirement for the move. In September, San Antonio mayor Ivy Taylor, who had championed the cause and previously said she was "all in" on bringing the Sky Sox to Texas, essentially shelved the project.

"At this point we don't have financial commitments from potential partners and I'm not willing to commit any tax dollars without that critical component," Ivy said in September. "In fact, contrary to previous reports, there will not be any provisions in the 2017 budget or in the proposed 2017 bond package relating to a downtown stadium. Consultants and staff will continue looking at various scenarios, but there is no timeline for action."

Elmore released a statement in September saying, "We are enthusiastic about a Triple-A ballpark in downtown San Antonio. Having studied other very successful examples of downtown Triple-A ballparks - in cities such as Charlotte and Nashville - and appreciating the potential of San Antonio, we want to participate in the opportunity to help move such a project forward in this city."

But even if San Antonio doesn't resurface as a potential destination, it doesn't mean the Sky Sox will stay. Ballpark Digest reports that Wichita, Kan., could become a suitor as the city is looking to spend $65 million on a new downtown ballpark - $40 million of which would come in sales tax revenue that has already been given preliminary approval.

Wichita's market size is ranked No. 96 nationally, just one spot below Colorado Springs at No. 95. So in that regard, a move to Kansas would be a wash.

Wichita, however, is located about 5,000 feet below Security Service Field. The Colorado Springs elevation, and its impact on pitching, has been a major issue for big league clubs that need to lean on the Triple-A level to develop arms.

Elmore Sports Group, based in Manhattan Beach, Calif., announced last year that it would move its short-season Pioneer League team from Helena, Mont., to Colorado Springs if it moved the Sky Sox. While that would represent a drop of four rungs down the minor-league ladder, it would mean that any renovations to Security Service Field wouldn't be wasted if a move eventually takes place.

But Ensor said he expects the Sky Sox, who recently signed a two-year player development contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, to be here for the long haul.

"There's really no change," he said. "There's no update. Our status remains the same as it was at the end of last season. . We're focusing on building our facility for a long future here in Colorado Springs."

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