PRESS RELEASE – Much remains uncertain regarding the long-term fate of the team formerly known as the Portland Beavers, but this much is clear: The long-time Pacific Coast League franchise will play in Tucson in 2011 and be run by veteran Minor League executive Mike Feder.
The Pima County Sports Tourism Authority (PCSTA) held a press conference Thursday to officially announce the move to Tucson. Feder was introduced as the GM of the club, which will continue to serve as the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. The team will be known as the Tucson Padres, with uniforms and logos similar to those of the parent club.
Feder is currently the PCSTA’s executive director, but he possesses extensive Minor League Baseball experience. Prior to his current position, he served as general manager for a pair of Tucson-based PCL franchises: the Toros and the Sidewinders. (The Toros relocated to Fresno following the 1997 campaign and were immediately replaced by the Sidewinders, who moved to Reno in 2008.) Like the Sidewinders, the new ballclub is expected to compete at Tucson Electric Park. The 11,500-seat facility served as the Diamondbacks’ Spring Training home from 1998 through 2010 and was the White Sox’s Cactus League home from 1998-2008.
This latest chapter of Tucson Minor League history is expected to be a temporary one. The move from Portland was precipitated by the team’s failure to secure funding for a new stadium, as the previous home of PGE Park is being converted to a soccer-only facility and will be home to new MLS club the Portland Timbers. In the wake of this setback, Beavers owner Merritt Paulson sold the club to a group led by San Diego Padres owner Jeff Moorad. His group is seeking to build a new stadium in Escondido, Calif., located just 30 miles from the Padres’ PETCO Park home.
Such a facility, however, is contingent on the Escondido city government approving the necessary funds. A City Council vote on the issue is scheduled for Nov. 30, and if it passes, the new ballpark should be ready in time for the 2012 campaign. If not, then the team’s stay in Tucson could extend indefinitely.
Regardless of how the situation plays out, Thursday’s announcement adds a new chapter to a city with a long and storied baseball past. Tucson’s Pacific Coast League history begins with the Toros’ inaugural season of 1969, and professional baseball in the area dates as far back as 1915.