Sugar Land may get minor league baseball team

Artist's rendering of proposed baseball stadium in Sugar Land.

February 17, 2010 5:26:55 PM PST
Sugar Land may be a step closer to getting their own professional minor league baseball team. Sugar Land City Council on Tuesday will consider a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Opening Day Partners, LLC (ODP) to provide a professional minor league baseball team and develop a stadium in Sugar Land's Cultural/Entertainment District. The MOU designates ODP as the City's exclusive negotiation partner for 90 days while each party works toward more formal and binding agreements. ODP has designed, constructed and operated 14 ballparks since 1982.

Professional minor league baseball is planned to be part of a larger destination activity center for Sugar Land, providing opportunities for entertainment and recreation for Sugar Land residents, as well as attracting non-residents from the surrounding area.

"We established a vision for a cultural entertainment district within our community over a decade ago," said Mayor James Thompson, "and we have worked tirelessly over the past several years to bring this plan closer to reality."

A Visioning Task Force composed of a cross-section of citizens in 2007, as well as planning activities and workshops, resulted in the creation of a formal vision for a destination activity center called the Cultural/Entertainment District on land surrounding the intersection of U.S. Highway 59 and University Blvd. Three specific venues were identified for initial development -- an indoor concert venue, a minor league baseball stadium and a festival site -- and later supported by citizens in a November 2008 special election.

With community direction and public support, the City first pursued professional minor league baseball. During the past year and a half, Sugar Land identified a site and worked toward finding a developer. Leaders hope to have a facility ready for the 2012 baseball season. The facility is anticipated to be a flexible multi-use design that will provide the potential to support college and high school baseball tournaments, concerts and other dynamic uses.

"Communities all over the country have identified the benefits of pursuing the development of entertainment districts to promote economic development and quality of life," said Thompson. "This is a project that combines more than a decade of citizen surveys, parks master plans, City Comprehensive Plans and Economic Development plans with the efforts of a citizen task force. We are looking forward to the possibility of working with Opening Day Partners to make our vision a reality."