Goodbye Missions — hello Missions
Now that the San Antonio Missions’ 2018 regular season is behind us, we can start to get a little bit giddy.
When I write “we,” I’m speaking for the casual Missions fan who is more about Flying Chanclas and Ballapeño than stats or nostalgia.
In 2019, San Antonio baseball is jumping into a bigger pool. While the Double-A club that is now the Missions is going to a shiny new stadium in Amarillo, we’ll be getting the Triple-A team that was in Colorado Springs.
We’ll still be the Missions, and we’re still in the minors, but we’re going Triple-A, just a click away from the majors. That means more teams, more players and more opportunities to catch plays that make you stand up and loudly ask the guy sitting next to you if he saw what you just saw.
We’re looking forward to suiting up against the Las Vegas 51s, so named because of the desert city’s proximity to the rumored Area 51, and maybe getting a glimpse of Cosmo, their team’s gray alien mascot.
We’re also pretty stoked about squaring off with the Albuquerque Isotopes, the New Orleans Baby Cakes and the El Paso Chihuahuas, partially because of the imaginative team names that are a part of the minor league charm.
And we’re really looking forward to re-igniting a rivalry with the Round Rock Express, the Missions’ rival team back when they were still in the Texas League. Here we come, Round Rock! Come at us!
Of course, growing a little bigger means we’re going to need a few more seats. There’s been talk about building a new minor league stadium downtown — and who isn’t going to pay for it — but nothing’s been decided. But as the Express-News’ Tom Orsborn has reported, there’s also talk about expanding Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium, which opened in 1994.
A new stadium would be nice, of course, especially since The Nelson (a cooler nickname than the more common “The Wolff”) is — at least in San Antonio terms — way out there. That’s an unfair label, because it’s not far if you’re coming from Mateo Camargo Park or Joint Base San Antonio — Lackland. It’s really only 8 miles or so away from downtown. VIA routes take you there. Thing is, once you start seeing agricultural fields instead of Circle Ks, it just seems so remote. There are a lot of homes out there, but there’s no food court a stone’s throw away, nor is there a big sprawling open air retail center with a Justice outlet or a Bath and Body Works within walking distance.
For many San Antonians, that’s just too remote. That goes double for those driving from the North Central growth area beyond Loop 1604. All that open space makes a difference.
You know what else makes a difference? Parking.
Currently, parking at a Missions game costs five bucks. Think parking at a downtown stadium, especially a new one that hasn’t been paid for, is going to cost five bucks? If you do, I’ve got a tower to sell you — and that costs five bucks, too.
Part of what has made the Missions beloved around here is that they are minor league attainable. A seat on the berm past left field is only five bucks, and that’s not a bad place to be on a summer night. The local promotions help build community. And, after the game, the kids can run the bases, just like the pros. For free.
That’s the minor league magic that is part of what we’ve had in San Antonio. You can’t put a price tag on that.