We’re back with a fresh look at leagues that started up this April and any Stadium changes have been reflected on The List. Of course, April means the glorious return to baseball and only a couple changes were made across both the Majors and Minors. Likely the biggest stadium news of the year in any sport is the opening of Marlins Park in Miami, thankfully getting the Marlins out of the football stadium down there. From what I have seen, the ballpark screams “Miami”. I think this is a good thing, despite all of the quirkiness involved. As for the ballpark’s finances…well that’s a different story.
In the minors, we have Penscaola’s new stadium: Blue Wahoos Park…or Community Maritime Park…wait, maybe its Multi-Use Stadium? I have no idea what the stadium is “officially” called as it has been named something different across many platforms (the Blue Wahoos website, the Pensacola News Journal, Wikipedia). I understand they’re looking for a naming rights deal, but c’mon figure out a consistent name until that happens. Anyway, the move set off a chain reaction as the Carolina Mudcats moved to Pensacola in the Southern League. Carolina took over Kinston’s spot in the Carolina League. That leaves historic Grainger Field without a tenant for the first time in a long time. They will remain on The List however, as it continues to host the Freedom Classic, a three-day series between Air Force and Navy each year. Other ballpark changes were just new names, all of them awful. Myrtle Beach’s ballpark will now be known as TicketReturn.com Field. Fifth Third Bank continues their plans to dominate the stadium world and stick their face in front of every fan as Geneva (Kane County) becomes the fourth Midwest city to have that bank as a naming rights sponsor. Lastly, Altoona, say it isn’t so! Blair County Ballpark is one of my favorites but it is now going to be known as Peoples Natural Gas Field. The only good that may come of this is my preferred nickname for it: Fart Field.
In other news, the International Basketball League resumed and lots of changes there. Unfortunately, both Gary and Battle Creek folded, meaning that the Genesis Convention Center and Kellogg Arena are off The List as sports are gone from their resume. USL-Pro (Third Division Soccer) also resumed and an interesting ballpark will be home to the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Al Lang Field, which has a lot of baseball history, will be a soccer home this year. Also, the San Antonio Scorpions expansion team is going to play in Heroes Stadium (a high school stadium). What is important here though is nearby construction is ongoing for them to move into a 6,100 seat stadium next year. That would only be Phase I of the complex as Phase V is a plan for an expansion to 18,000….possibly with an eye on the MLS?