Professional baseball will be coming to Garden City in 2015.
That announcement was made late Friday afternoon in a press release by the City of Garden City, indicating that the Garden City Wind would be the newest addition to the Pecos League, an independent professional baseball league.
The league will be entering its fifth season with the bulk of its teams located in New Mexico, with additional teams in Colorado and Texas.
The Wind will be part of a four-team Northern Division that will include Trinidad, Colo. Triggers; Las Vegas, N.M. Train Robbers and the Santa Fe, N.M. Fuego. The Southern Division includes the Alpine, Texas, Cowboys; Las Cruces, N.M. Vaqueeros, Roswell, N.M. Invaders and the White Sands, N.M. Pupfish.
“We look forward to a strong relation with the Pecos League and are excited to be home to the Garden City Wind this summer,” Garden City Mayor Roy Cessna said in the press release. “This exciting addition is consistent with the commission’s desire to make Garden City the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”
The Pecos League is operated by owner and commissioner Andrew Dunn.
“We are excited to play the 2015 season in Garden City,” Dunn said in the press release. “I believe it will fit perfectly with the other seven cities in the league.”
The Wind will play its home games at Clint Lightner Stadium, located in Finnup Park on the south side of Garden City. Just last spring, artificial turf was installed on the infield at Clint Lightner, making it one of the finest playing surfaces in eastern Colorado and western Kansas.
Details are still to be worked out, but a facility use agreement must be signed. Garden City City Manager Matt Allen said in a Friday telephone interview that the agreement was currently being drafted by the city’s legal counsel and would be presented for final approval at the Jan. 20, 2015 City Commission meeting. Also to be presented for approval will be the team’s ability to sell cereal malt beverage during Wind home games.
“John Washington (Garden City Recreation Commission executive director) had come to us about developing a relationship with the Pecos League and we told him that if they could work out the scheduling, we have no problem with it,” Allen said. “There’s been no request for funding by the Pecos League for the Wind, so there’s no expense to the taxpayer.”
In a telephone interview late Friday, Dunn said that most teams in the league have an average budget of between $160,000 and $240,000 per season. Players, who usually are aged 25 and under, are paid between $300 and $500 per month.
“We go into a town and hope that we can get host families to house the players as one way of keeping expenses low,” Dunn said. “We look for reduced housing costs when teams are on the road, and we will be looking at the Southwest Chief (Amtrak) for possible ways to transport players between some of the teams in the league.”
A 70-game schedule will be played, Dunn said, with about 60 of those games to be played against the other division teams, and between 9 and 11 games against teams in the other division.
Dunn and his organization run an independent development league in Houston in March, well after most major league teams have determined their own rosters for their minor league teams as well.
“About a quarter of those players have been from the Dominican Republic,” Dunn said.
Dunn also said that both the Wind and Trinidad will conduct a six-day spring training in mid-May with the regular season slated to open on May 19 (Tues.) against Trinidad.
Dunn indicated that most teams receive funding from ticket sales, sponsorships, merchandise sales and concessions at games. Rosters are set at 22 players, and National League rules are used, meaning that pitchers are in the lineup and required to bat.
Dunn said that with distances between league teams being substantial, that most series will be comprised of between four and six games. Trinidad is the closest team at 236 miles, while Las Vegas and Santa Fe, N.M. are 337 and 403 miles, respectively.
Schedule conflicts which were avoided for the home schedule include the Jim Clanton Memorial in late June and a state Babe Ruth Tournament in the latter half of July.
The Wind will finalize its coaching staff in the near future. Players who are interested in a tryout should contact Eric Schiff at email@example.com or call 314-874-6774.