Earlier today we linked to a post from Baseball Digest that disputed a Chronicle report and said that Jim Crane was trying to buy the New Orleans Zephyrs (something that, from the comments, a few of you are not really happy about) and move the team to The Woodlands/Montgomery County.
Turns out they were totally right.
Crane told McTaggart that it's going to take a few years, but basically here are the steps that need to be taken:
1. Get the cities/counties (Crane mentions The Woodlands and Conroe) involved, and agree on funding.
2. Build a stadium.
3. Buy a franchise.
3. Move them.
Obviously, the Astros can't buy the Zephyrs and leave them in New Orleans, if they're currently affiliated with a team in Oklahoma City. The current Professional Development Contract with OKC ends in 2014. And, hey, so does the Zephyrs agreement with the Marlins. So you could have the Astros purchase the Zephyrs, sign up for a two-year PDC for 2015-2016 in New Orleans, build a stadium in north Houston, and move them for the 2017 season.
Turns out Zephyrs GM Mike Schline is surprised that it's gone public this early in the process.
"I was a little surprised that its gone public at this preliminary of a stage, but (owner) Don (Beaver) has had discussions with people in the past and discussions are discussions. That's where it's at right now. If someone comes up with the right price and the right package, he'll sell the team."
The linked Advocate report says that the Zephyrs' current stadium lease ends in 2016. So it's all sort of mapped out, isn't it?
Also, the Astros are involved in planning to build new Spring Training facilities ready for when the agreement with Osceola County ends in 2016. Crane:
"There's a number of teams that have expressed interest, and the Blue Jays are one of them. Again, we're waiting on state approval and city approval, which isn't done yet. Once that's done, a two-team complex there would anchor that area with the Marlins and Cardinals, and Mets up the street. That would be a pretty good situation for everybody, and those teams are very supportive of somebody trying to get something done there."