Thank You To El Paso Diablos And The Pecos League

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Last night, July 26, the Pecos League’s Las Cruces Vaqueros and the Alpine Cowboys played a doubleheader at Cohen Stadium, home of the El Paso Diablos (American Association). was there and wants to thank all parties for their hospitality and willingness to discuss new methods to add more value to what independent baseball teams can offer their fans in the upcoming seasons.

Thanks to Matt LaBranche and his staff for their time and interest, and thank you to Andrew Dunn of the Pecos League.  Thanks also go out to the Casey Dill and Ryan Stevens, managers of the Vaqueros and Cowboys respectively.

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1 Comment

  1. Didn’t know what to expect coming from Alpine where I’ve season tickets for the Alpine Cowboys in historic Kokernot Field. I’d seen pictures of Cohen Stadium and was looking forward to seeing two of the best Pecos League teams in a more modern facility; though watching baseball in historic Kokernot down in Alpine is a treat. One question about the stadium: “How do they build a stadium in Texas with insufficient cover from that Texas sun beating down on the field and fans?’ That’s also the case in Frisco, TX (about an hour or so north of Dallas) for the affiliated “AA” Texas League team. Can’t imagine playing a day game

    Sadly the attendance didn’t amount to 100 people (if that) including a good number of Cowboys LF Eric Garcia’s family (he’s from El Paso and played for the Diablos before coming to the Cowboys in 2009). I saw perhaps two or so people with a Diablos logo in the stadium; perhaps 15 or so from Las Cruces (all of 60 miles and an hour away compared to 230 miles and 4.5 hours from Alpine). Workers in the several concession stands looked bored, acted bored and spent considerable time on their smart phones.

    Missed was an excellent double header by two hard playing teams then in the thick of an undecided #1 spot. Losing could have re-arranged the order and … well, Alpine prevailed the day before the end of the regular season as #1 seed and Las Cruces #2. Rain threatened to ruin the event, but stopped well before it was necessary to contemplate ending the contest(s), though starting up every time we moved down to the box seats opposite the mound along 3rd base. Lightning looked dangerous, but the storm moved towards the southeast. Did weather or promotion cut the numbers? I don’t know, but looking in the El Paso daily paper, NOT ONE WORD of the Diablos or the American Association standings appeared in the two days I was in town. Ouch. That’s right — NOT ONE WORD. What’s that all about?

    The $6 admission price made the evening a true pro baseball entertainment value. $1 beer only sweetened the deal. As for the quality of the concession food — they didn’t serve hotdogs, but I enjoyed a great bratwurst. The nachos were simply tortilla chips, that plastic cheese better served caulking your tub and spread on top and optional jalapenos. Boo-hiss! Come on down to Alpine and try the beef or steak meat with REAL cheese and ALL the fixins served at Kokernot. Anyhow … we were there for baseball and had a great evening.

    Thank you, Diablos for allowing the Pecos League to play and being a good host. Same too, for Pecos League Commissioner, Andrew Dunn, who reserved a couple suites for those from each city wishing to use them. One note of woe — the storied Diablos franchise under a variety of incarnations has its 1990 (if I recall the year) Texas League Champions banner in a darkened corner along the corridor for the suites. Sigh!

    Baseball rumors persist that El Paso is about to obtain an affiliated “AAA” franchise for which the city is supposed to spring for some $60 million to build them a brand new stadium. Look, I enjoy minor league ball at all levels and cut my baseball teeth listening on the radio as early as 1958 and watching the “AAA” Buffalo Bisons of the International, then American Association and back to the IL. There’s a much smaller population base up North compared to El Paso with Juarez across the border but do they seriously think “AAA” is going to bring in that much additional business to El Paso for the investment in building them a brand new stadium?

    Let’s be honest. People don’t follow minor league ball like they do the majors. And if they’ve got a losing record, it takes a lot of the joy from attending – thus they’d better be competitive on the field or else! It takes a winning club to draw fans and even then, that won’t guarantee box office success notwithstanding major league – parent club assistance or the city helping to subsidize aspects of stadium construction and/or operations.

    If the parent club is not committed to winning throughout the entire organization, the farm club(s) can twist in the wind for as long as the working agreement lasts and the minor league team(s) will not draw a fraction of the stadium’s capacity. Clearly, daily promotions and group sales help, but as with the Bisons, once the bloom of a new stadium has faded and/or your decent parent club says good-bye first (as did Cleveland a couple years) … you’ll be counting tickets sold instead of actual fans in the stands for “official attendance” figures in a pretty much empty, expensive, modern facility wondering why your tax dollars paid the freight.

    Let the pro franchise owners extort the citizens of NFL cities, but they simply don’t have the same leverage for a minor league, Indy or affiliated ball club when projecting the economic value of the franchise to the community. Build your fan base the old fashioned way – have a winning club and of course, work today to sell seats for the years ahead. Get the players involved in the community; offer deep discounts and have some day games for the schools and … promotions, promotions, promotions!

    Glad Alpine has Indy ball and a great team to enjoy. Oh … I saw a NABL game in early July in San Angelo v. Abilene and we’ve enjoyed better infield play in the Pecos League with the great Cowboys entry this season.

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