Kirk: Atlantic League looking at Fort Worth

Udpate: I’ve received some e-mails asking to detail the situation in Fort Worth. ODP and Peter Kirk had been in talks with Fort Worth. He would like to continue the conversation. However, no new talks have taken place since new ownership took over the team. Kirk stated Monday that he would like to “continue to pursue the possibility” of a Fort Worth franchise joining the Atlantic League.

Fort Worth Cats owner John Bryant stated he has not talked to Kirk and he is happy with United League Baseball.

Opening Day Partners chairman Peter Kirk confirmed his ownership group is in talks with Fort Worth with the hopes of planting an Atlantic League franchise at the current home of the Fort Worth Cats. The Cats currently play at LaGrave Field, a ballpark Kirk classified as half-finished by Atlantic League standards. Architects that work with ODP have looked at the stadium and believe the shell of LeGrave Field can be saved and used after a renovation/addition has been completed to bring the stadium more in line with other Atlantic League parks.

For one, ODP would like to add permanent concession stands instead of relying on portable stands that are in use now.

The Cats play in the United League, a short-season independent league. So ODP would need to work out the politics and finances of the deal and stadium renovation before Fort Worth could join the Atlantic League, meaning Fort Worth probably wouldn’t be on the Atlantic League map for a couple years.

The Fort Worth market appeals to ODP because of its sheer size, and it would fill the need for the league to add another franchise in Texas — joining Sugar Land. Kirk likes the location of the ballpark. Kirk noted if the league could pick up a franchise in Fort Worth, the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston (Sugar Land) markets could serve as bookends to the Atlantic League’s proposed Western Division. Even before Sugar Land played its first game in the Atlantic League in 2012, league officials expressed their desire to add a Western Division comprised of at least four teams in the Texas/Louisiana area in order to develop geographic rivals and also lessen the amount of Sugar Land’s travel.

Although Kirk declined to reveal details of other possible expansion markets, he did say other municipalities in Texas have been in contact with his group with the intention of building stadiums.

Atlantic League expansion in the Woodlands area — what would be a natural geographic rival for Sugar Land — appears to be in a holding pattern at the moment since the Astros have announced their intention of placing a Triple-A club there. But that move will take some serious moves on the Astros part. The Astros Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City has a lease with the Astros through 2014. So the Astros would need to buy another Triple-A franchise and move it to the Woodlands. If that plan falls through, and it could, the Atlantic League could once again be in play to plant another team in the Houston suburbs.

About Jim Seip

Jim Seip has been posting podcasts with Frank Bodani for years. He deserves a trophy.
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4 Responses to Kirk: Atlantic League looking at Fort Worth

  1. I had this convoe a week ago with a Skeeters front office guy, having no idea this was already going on. They fit the mold of the Skeeters, close to MLB team, a town of 600, 000. Their ownership had some difficulties in recent years, team was sold, there was even talk they would not play last year. ODP is much better at this, I think they are the right folks to do it. The Cats have been around for years btw, fairly historic minor league team…

  2. Jim says:

    If ODP took ownership of the Cats it would work out great if they run a good business model. The only reason it’s failing miserably in FTW now is the current ownership group is even worse than the last…..vendors and investors not paid, front office behind on checks, no tickets or schedule out six weeks from supposed opener. Might take a season to get the fan and sponsor trust back, but if someone could run it right, everyone would benefit.

  3. Bflobaz says:

    We’ll leave it to the experts, but between the major AL Texas Rangers in Arlington (nr. Dallas) and minor league clubs in Frisco (AA Texas League about 30 miles north of Dallas), Grand Prairie Air Hogs in Grand Prairie (American Association Indy ball) and Fort Worth in the United League as the post said … have I missed anybody? Just how much more can the region sustain? Sure, the minor league clubs offer great pro baseball entertainment at a lower cost than the Rangers. And while the Frisco and Grand Prairie stadiums more modern than the Ft. Worth Cats — its still a great place to watch a game!

    I’ve wondered how the Atlantic League could sustain a Sugar Land outpost; closer to the moon than its other east coast teams … so expanding towards the west is the way to go. Bless them … I mean it … but look at the market and then determine if it is truly viable. That’s all I’m saying … but not at the expense of the Cats … they’ve a history. If the Atlantic League expands to Ft. Worth, at least keep the name and rights …

    That brings us to the United League … Hope the United League has the where-with-all to keep going. At last glance, their website is anemic and fails to provide much information of anything happening in 2013. The team websites look hopeful; player transactions make their news, but …

  4. Jim says:

    And to detail the update a little further, Bryant is “happy with the united league” because he and pierce own all the teams. Now the league is a complete joke, with thousands of dollars in outstanding debts, but at least he’s happy with it. Never mind the fans, vendors, and employees being upset.

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