The Almost San Antonio Marlins?

On Wednesday, April 4, 2012, the Miami Marlins opened their new ballpark named, surprise, Marlins Park. The park boasts a sweeping view of the downtown Miami skyline and a sculpture in center field that celebrates home runs but looks extremely out of place. It appears the Marlins will finally stick to South Florida.

What few people remember is that there was nearly a relocation of the then-Florida Marlins back in 2006 to either San Antonio or Portland, Oregon. The owners of the Marlins met with officials from both cities, and it looked quite possible that the Marlins would move to San Antonio. Then something happened. The Marlins used the threat of relocation to San Antonio to get their new ballpark with the sculpture. San Antonio was left in the lurch and still with no Major League Baseball (MLB) team. The city lost a chance at the Marlins and then stopped trying to bring the MLB to town.

The national perception is that San Antonio is too small for MLB or NFL teams. This is false, as San Antonio is the seventh most populated city in the United States, larger than San Diego, San Francisco, Baltimore, Boston, Seattle and many other cities that are all home to a MLB team. So the size is there for a MLB team, but is the support? Baseball fans in San Antonio are forced to be either Astros fans or Rangers fans because there is no team here. With a MLB team of their own, San Antonians would have another organization in which to take pride in.

What the city needs is the same attitude from civic leaders that brought the Spurs down from Dallas back in the early 1970s. Then, Red McCombs and other leaders leased the Spurs for three years before the city adopted the team as its own and the lease became a full relocation of the then-Chapparals. It’s just that kind of initiative that led San Antonio to become one of the preeminent cities of the southwest. If San Antonio is going to become a MLB city, it’s going to take forward thinkers.

There are potential teams that could be brought to San Antonio if purchased by a San Antonio ownership group. The Oakland Athletics are trying to get a stadium deal done in San Jose, California. The Tampa Bay Rays are in a dome as old as the Alamodome. Both teams might be tempted to move to San Antonio if the right price came along and the city rallied to build a new stadium. The opportunity to have Major League Baseball is present; it is just going to take forward thinking leadership from the populace. San Antonio was once a cutting edge city, and it can be again.