Step 2: Increasing market share in statewide metros
You might know that San Antonio transitioned from a Double-A to Triple-A minor league baseball city last season. This move represents a major stepping stone for a city knocking on the proverbial door to land an MLB franchise. Perhaps in five, ten, twenty years, MLB might expand to Mexico City, Tokyo, and perhaps even San Antonio.
Of all domestic markets, Greater San Antonio with its Texas-sized population growth can make one of the strongest cases for receiving a potential major league expansion team. While San Antonio’s minor league team remains affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers, fans in Texas’ third-largest metro area could use some Lone Star love.
To that end, the Astros should be lighting up the City of San Antonio’s phone extensions to reserve the Alamodome for a 2021 spring training appearance. Moreover, whatever it takes, the Astros should look into securing a long-term contract for hosting such events in ensuing seasons.
The Alamodome baseball experience is rather unique. The turf and indoor lighting feel eerily not unlike baseball in the Astrodome. Throw in the novelty of a football and basketball stadium configured for a baseball game with its quirky field dimensions, and any baseball fan can find something to appreciate. One year, I caught the first daily Astros’ split-squad game in the Alamodome and made it to Minute Maid in the nick of time to witness the last couple of innings of game two.
Last season, Big League Weekend, an MLB exhibition series occurring toward the end of spring training in the Alamodome that former Rangers and current Astros executive Reid Ryan played an instrumental role in creating, was most likely not offered to fans because the San Antonio Commanders of the defunct Alliance of American Football needed the Alamodome to play home games. Nevertheless, it remains within the Astros’ financial interest to forego one to three exhibition games at Minute Maid Park each season in an effort to build market presence by featuring several spring training games in San Antonio.
After all, media interest and merchandise sales outside of Greater Houston might generate extra revenue for the Astros that could ultimately serve as an X factor in allowing the franchise extra financial freedom to afford fielding a championship roster in the future.
If the Astros do not set the terms and seize the opportunity, the Rangers will. And time is ticking, before professional football and San Antonio might forge a new partnership, further straining the Alamodome’s availability.