AAA comes to Fort Wayne

If you remember back during the discussion about the building of a new stadium in Fort Wayne, there were some who argued that the Wizards (at the time) should build a new stadium and jump up some classifications to either AA or AAA.  Never mind that there wasn’t room at either level. They just should.

Well, the TinCaps (as they are now known) made the right choice in staying a Midwest League team.

Look for some of that AAA talk to ramp up again as the TinCaps have snagged a AAA series between Tuscon, the San Diego Padres AAA affiliate, and Las Vegas late in the 2011 season.

TinCaps president Mike Nutter announced Monday that, next July, Parkview Field will play host to a four-game series between the San Diego Padres’ triple-A affiliate, the Tucson Padres, and the Las Vegas 51s, the triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Among prospective Tucson players are [Simon] Castro and several other former TinCaps or Wizards, among them Cedric Hunter, Luis Durango, Luis Martinez, Mike Baxter and Jeremy Hefner.

The four-game set will be a Thursday-Sunday series running from July 14 through the 17th and will coincide with the final weekend of the Three Rivers Festival. The TinCaps are on the road at Burlington and Peoria that weekend.

“This just provides a great opportunity for the great fans in this region to come on out and check it out the highest level of minor league baseball,” Nutter said Monday.

“In the 19 years I’ve been in this industry, I haven’t heard of another franchise that was able to do something like this. And it took some special circumstances to make it happen.”

What set it all in motion was the Padres’ triple-A affiliate’s relocation from Portland, Ore., to Tucson, a move precipitated by the Portland facility’s switch to an all-soccer configuration.

The move was announced in July; it wasn’t until a conference call Friday that the shifting to Fort Wayne of four of the team’s 71 home games was finalized.

“At one point, it was looking like it might be Lake Elsinore and Fort Wayne and possibly Eugene (Ore.) and possibly Petco Park (the Padres’ home field), and all the other ones ended up going by the wayside,” Nutter said. “We never had anything in writing; we were just talking about it in concept, and they just kept saying it looks good, it sounds good.”

It is noted in the story that Nutter emphasized that this is a “one-time occurance”. That means not to be repeated.

If it goes well – and there is no reason to think that it won’t – I doubt if that will stop talk by fans like, “Hey! Let’s go AAA!”

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