Time again for AAA Musical Chairs

It’s September in an even-numbered year, so you (should) know what that means: The biennial ritual of matching AAA franchises to new cities has begun. According to the Chronicle’s Susan Slusser, that includes the A’s affiliate, the Nashville Sounds, who are discontinuing their player development contract (PDC) with the parent club.

In this new era of improved regional consolidation, the pairing of a Central time zone-based AAA club with a Pacific time-zone based parent was never going to be the most convenient of situations. While the Sounds were reasonably competitive under the A’s stewardship, the transient nature of player movement makes it more likely for fans to root for the front of the jerseys than the names on the back.

Las Vegas Ballpark planned for Summerlin, NV

The Sounds could hook up with the Washington Nationals. The Nats will no longer be the parent of the Syracuse Chiefs as the Chiefs were bought by the New York Mets. In turn, the Mets are ditching the Las Vegas 51s, a team undergoing its own transformation. Additionally, the Round Rock Express are expected to switch back from an affiliation with the Texas Rangers to the Houston Astros. As a result the Fresno Grizzlies’ affiliation would be up for grabs. So it would appear that the A’s have Las Vegas and Fresno as potential affiliate candidates. The Rangers could also switch to Nashville or San Antonio.

For potential west coast affiliates, air travel is easier coming in and out of Las Vegas than Fresno, so Sin City has a distinct advantage based on logistics. Fresno’s airport is small compared to other major cities and doesn’t have the kind of demand that teams can use to their advantage for pricing. Fresno is closer to Oakland than Vegas, only a four-hour drive (six on Amtrak) from Fresno to the Coliseum. If Reno extends with the Dbacks, another candidate in the Pacific time zone goes away.

Las Vegas and Nashville have one thing in common. HOK was the architect for First Tennessee Park in Nashville, which opened in 2015 in time for the A’s. HOK is also working on the new ballpark in Summerlin, which will replace Cashman Field starting in 2019. HOK also has previous experience working the A’s, as the firm designed Avaya Stadium for the Quakes. And don’t forget, the A’s retained HOK’s Brad Schrock as a consultant on their new ballpark project in Oakland. Synergies abound!

P.S. – If you’re wondering if the new ballpark in Summerlin could host the A’s or another MLB club, take a look at the rendering in this post. Then get back to me on how you’d add 20,000 seats and a roof.

7 thoughts on “Time again for AAA Musical Chairs

  1. “Fresno is closer to Oakland than Vegas, only a four-hour drive (six on Amtrak) from Fresno to the Coliseum.”

    That’s, uh, less than 2-and-a-half hours if I’m driving.

  2. I think AZ had already re-upped with Reno a few weeks ago.

  3. Looks like the 51’s will be the AAA team for the A’s.

    To which some dude down there replied…”Now Oakland will have two minor league teams in LV.”

  4. FWIW, they’re ditching the 51s moniker as they move into the new ballpark. They solicited name propositions from the public, but it’s a poorly-kept secret that new name will be the Aviators. (Howard Hughes Corp. is a partial owner of the team.)

  5. @ ML

    I saw the pic you put on twitter (recovery), just wanted to let you know you look great, keep up the good work.

    I have known a couple people that have recovered to the point, where they are probably healthier now then they were before their incident.

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