Abilene Prairie Dogs to Return in 2012

The indy pro North American League is expected to announce Thursday that the 2012 version of the Abilene Prairie Dogs will begin play this summer at McMurry University’s Walt Driggers FieldRead more here.  Abilene hosted the the Texas-Louisiana League’s Prairie Dogs from 1995-1999.

PRESS RELEASE – After a 12-year hiatus, professional baseball is returning to the city of Abilene. The North American League announced Thursday that the Abilene Prairie Dogs will play in the 2012 season. The new Prairie Dogs franchise takes its name from the old Abilene pro team that played in the independent Texas-Louisiana League from 1995 through 1999.

“The Prairie Dogs were in Abilene during the 1990s, and were very successful,” League President Byron Pierce said. “When their lease expired they moved to San Angelo and became the Colts, but Abilene has always been a good market. We can’t wait to bring the Prairie Dogs back.”

With the addition of the Prairie Dogs, there are now six teams in the North American League South Division. The Prairie Dogs join the San Angelo Colts, Fort Worth Cats, Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings, Edinburg Roadrunners and McAllen Thunder.

This year the Prairie Dogs will play their home games at Walt Driggers Field on the campus of McMurry University. A deal is in the works to construct a brand new ballpark in Abilene for the 2013 season.

The Prairie Dogs are scheduled to play 32 home games this year. Their home opener is set for 7:05 p.m. on Monday, May 28 against the Colts. Every team in the league will make at least one trip to Abilene.

“The North American League is very excited to welcome the Prairie Dogs,” Executive General Manager Mike Babcock said. “I am happy to see pro baseball return to Abilene, and I look forward to watching this new franchise become part of the community and build upon the city’s already long and proud baseball history.”

Professional baseball in Abilene dates all the way back to 1939 with the Apaches of the old West Texas-New Mexico League. Halfway through the season the Apaches moved, and it was seven years before a new team arrived.

It was the Abilene Blue Sox who took the Apaches’ place, emerging in the same league in 1946. The Blue Sox played from 1946 through 1957, and were affiliated first with the Brooklyn Dodgers and then the Kansas City Athletics.

“The city has welcomed this new franchise with open arms, and I am confident the fans will too,” Babcock said.

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4 Comments

Filed under League & Franchise, Stadium Issues

4 responses to “Abilene Prairie Dogs to Return in 2012

  1. Gil Renard

    Would a collegiate league team in the TCL not be a better more safe investment than a professional league under the given factors. A TCL team would mean no player compensation, which would help offset the no beer sales. Also, a shorter season, meaning no as many road trips, would be ideal..

    • ballparkbiz

      Summer collegiate ball offers a better business model, if the plan is to run the team like a true minor league business. From my perspective, I still wouldn’t do it without beer.

      Alan

  2. Gil Renard

    Looks like a nice field. My question is this.. What is different in 2012 from 1999, that will make this version of the Abilene Prairie Dogs successful? The city of Abilene is too big not to have professional baseball, but it seems to me that the only difference between 2012 and 1999 is 13 years. The McMurray venue is a nice facility, and Abilene fits in nicely in the NABL with San Angelo and Fort Worth a short drive away. I just hope the ownership has some great promotions and other ways to off set no beer sales, and such a late start no ticket sales. It may have been better for the team to start play in 2013, as it would allow enough time for the staff to secure sponsorships, and sell tickets. Being this far behind the 8 ball, it will be a battle in 2012, and the ownership will not be able to truly judge their market until after year 2.

    • ballparkbiz

      All valid points. Don’t expect a killing at the gate here. I assume beer sales are still an obstacle, which was one of the challenges the Abilene Blue Sox faced when trying to lock in a deal there.

      Alan

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