Taos is on track to become the home of a professional baseball team, Pecos League commissioner Andrew Dunn recently announced. The Taos Blizzard is scheduled to become the league’s newest expansion team beginning this upcoming season, which will take place during the 2013 summer.
“I think it’s spectacular; I’m over-the-top excited about it,” said Marty Remaly, who founded the Men’s Adult Baseball League in Taos. “It will give a really good community base activity that draws people of all interest areas.”
Remaly said he’s been working off and on to convince the Pecos League to add a team in Taos for the last five years. After years of tacit talks, the decision to come to Taos happened fast.
The league was planning to add a team in Pueblo, Colo., but Pueblo was unable to pass a bond that would have built the team a stadium, enabling Taos to get the nod.
“We’re moving forward; we can’t wait,” Dunn said. “We can’t go there if there’s no stadium.”
The Taos Blizzard is planning to play at the Taos High School baseball field, and figuring out a lease agreement with the town is one of the final steps to make the Taos Blizzard a reality.
The expansion to Taos happened so fast that Taos Town Manager Oscar Rodríguez said he hasn’t even seen a first draft of the lease agreement yet. Rodríguez, who would be the person signing off on the deal, did say, however, that he’d likely support a plan if it didn’t cost the town anything.
The Pecos League is moving forward with the assumption a deal will be reached. Taos Sports Alliance President Justin Lea said there was a preliminary meeting last year to gauge support and, based on those meetings and other talks, he’s optimistic a deal will be reached.
“We already have everything set,” Dunn said. “We don’t have a formal agreement with the school, but we don’t have time to wait. We plan on being there (in Taos) and I’m excited to be there.”
The league expanded to Santa Fe last season with the Fuego baseball team, and the Fuego led the league in attendance.
Santa Fe will be a natural rivalry for the Blizzard. Dunn said that the Blizzard will also be in the same division as the Trinidad (Colo.) Triggers and the Roswell Invaders.
Taos’ location between Trinidad and Santa Fe was a big reason to expand here, Dunn said.
The league also had teams in Las Cruces, Alamogordo and Alpine (Texas) last season.
The Blizzard is scheduled to play 22 of its 70 games at home during its inaugural season.
Dunn said the shortened home schedule reduces the risk of expanding to Taos. Without lights, Dunn said it would be hard to consistently attract people to 4 p.m. games, especially on weekdays.
The league’s 70-game schedule is crammed into 74 days.
With Taos’ elevation, offense on homeruns is expected to flourish here. The fence down the left field line is 320 feet, 380 in dead center and 390 in the deepest part of the park in right center.
Tickets to watch the Blizzard play are expected to cost around $6.
“It’s a very affordable night,” Remaly said. “It’s going to be a natural attraction for families.”
The league is mostly composed of young ball players, around 22 years old, who are working to keep their dreams alive of reaching the major leagues.
Last season, 127 Pecos League players moved on to play in higher, independent leagues. With a monthly salary of $400, passion, not money, is certainly the players’ main motivation.
Teams from the league hold tryouts in Texas, Arizona, and Georgia to find talent from around the country.
“This type of team and type of league will fit in nice with the town,” Lea said. “It will be competitive — guys playing for the passion. I can’t foresee any negatives.”
“It’s a quality league,” Dunn said. “You just have to see the games.”
Dunn expects Blizzard merchandise to be available by Nov. 1 online at TaosBlizzard.com.