The Tucson Padres and the Pacific Coast League have announced that the San Diego AAA affiliate will be staying in Tucson for the 2013 season. This will be the Padres third year playing in Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, which is a pretty big surprise considering that originally Tucson was only supposed to be a one year stop for the club.
When Portland announced that they were going to reconfigure their stadium for the MLS's
Portland Timbers, the Padres needed to find a new place to put their AAA affiliate Portland Beavers. The original plan was to build a new stadium in Escondido, CA, which is about a 40 minute drive from Petco Park. But with instability with San Diego Padres ownership and various other things, the Escondido stadium proposal fell through, and Tucson was guaranteed a second year in 2012.
The Tucson Padres have struggled, both on the field and in the stands. Over the first year and a half, they have been a combined 40 games under .500, and have had by far the lowest average attendance in the PCL, more than 1,000 less in average attendance than the next closest team. All of this led to speculation of the San Diego Padres moving the club to somewhere else, possibly El Paso. There is even an elpasopadres.com registered and ready to go, although you may want to put on some eye protection before visiting the site right now.
Tucson has always been a major part of the Pacific Coast League, and it was very strange to not have AAA baseball in the Old Pueblo after the Diamondbacks moved the Sidewinders to Reno. Hopefully a promise of a third year and some better baseball talent will bring more fans to the games, and show the baseball world that Tucson deserves to have AAA baseball for the long term.