Here is an update on the latest news from the Arizona-Mexico League:
This past week, league officials held a meeting to discuss the prospects of the upcoming season.
The focus was on the economy and how successful the league could be as a result of the current
state of the economy and rate of inflation.
The league was proposed in 2019, before Covid-19 impacted the country as it did. The economy
was rolling and the prospects for a bright future seemed clear.
During the pandemic, retail spending soared as stimulus checks and online shopping help to
bolster sales. I personally witnessed how people took their first $800 stimulus check and used it
to buy $100,000 cars on an 84-month loan term. Most of the buyers did not qualify financially
to make repayment of the loan but banks overlooked the qualification process. Cars were sold by
the thousands. I personally transported many of those cars to lots and buyers.
This buying surge did not just impact the retail and car industries. The housing market went
through the roof as well, as home sales reached record highs. However, this past January saw
those numbers decline sharply as interest rates have risen and inflation has deprived most of
their ability to purchase a home.
This decline in the economy has us wondering at the league office about the timing of starting a
new league. The success of any operation is dependent upon timing and location. We know the
location is ideal. The timing is the issue.
To prepare for the 2023 season, a lot needs to be accomplished. The league an individual team
offices must open. Teams must be staff and a partnership must be made with local governments,
sponsors, and businesses as we introduce new teams.
However, with the economic indicators show that our economy is in a sharp decline, and most
all economists that talk daily on cable news outlets projected that the pain is only going to get
worse. Interest rates are expected to rise by as much as three percentage points by the end of
this year, which could lead to a higher rate of unemployment. 401Ks are seeing a sharp decline
and the stock market may be in some trouble.
This has us wondering if a projected start date for May 2023 is a good idea or even possible.
The Mexican Baseball Fiesta has began again this year. The Fiesta has Liga Pacifica teams come
in local ballparks to play a spring training camp game that will proceed into their fall league. The
majority of the rosters are rookies trying to make the team. The local fans of these smaller cities
enjoy watching the one-game-event of the year to be played in their own ballpark.
When looking at some of this weekend’s games it was apparent that attendance was way down.
If one looked at photos from a few years ago, the stadiums were packed for these events. That
was not the case this year.
Our league reached out to the Mexican Baseball Fiesta a week ago and the president asked us to
email him our contact information and he would pass our info to the Douglas game
representative. It’s been a week and we have had no contact from the MBF concerning our
request. I told the president that we wanted to hold a league baseball meeting in Douglas that
afternoon and then our group could attend the game that night in Douglas. I even asked about
group rates for game tickets.
As Steve Shaad reports, good attendance will generate good sponsorship. In this business
environment, I feel that it is unfair to sell sponsorships at a rate that will not be supported by the
likely attendance. I want to be honest with sponsors, and it is likely that attendance will be down
the season, meaning sponsorship deals will be at a decreased rate as well.
In my years of selling sponsorship for various professional, I have averaged nearly 45% selling
rate. I feel that this cannot be accomplished at this time.
In a conversation with Mike Cloutier, he makes an important point – the local team must be a
year-around operation. The team doesn’t just pop into town several weeks before the season and
exit out of town directly after the last game is completed. The team needs to have a small staff
year around communicating with the town. This also helps with some non-profit work and
raising the quality of life for the community. We must be part of the community and not a
I have worked about ten years with a low-level semi-pro league and their main objective was to
run a team operation without a team office. Sponsorship campaigns were non-existent but that
leaves the businesses open and available for the team booster club/main volunteer group to
raise funds directly needed for the next road trip, gas for players’ cars, hotels and meals.
As a league we cannot operate that way. We can’t run a raffle or quick booster club “Ask for
Help” campaign to survive. I asked the league director, what if the booster club and the 50/50
raffles didn’t generate enough funds for the team to continue on their next road trip? I asked the
league director if a shortage ever occurred in the fundraising, and he said no. I’m scratching my
head. What if there is a shortage? We cannot operate a league with those big questions.
In this business environment, with the economy expected to continue down a declining
pathway, we cannot consciously move forward at this time and ask the local communities to
partner with us.
With that being said, our league is not contingent on a certain goal of sponsorship sales or game
day turnout. Our team budgets are secured. Once the league announces it will play, the league
will proceed and do well.
We understand that this hard economic time will make it difficult for fans to afford high prices
for tickets, businesses to invest money in sponsorships, and communities to use their limited
funds to support teams. However, that does not mean that fans should be deprived of America’s
game. We want to give local communities the opportunity to see fantastic baseball played each
week. We want businesses and local governments to have the opportunity to support their team.
So, we will be fielding a league this year expecting that revenues may not be great, but we want
to establish ourselves as a part of the communities where our teams will play.
To make sure that this will be a success, we have set opening day for the summer of 2024. This
gives us time to build relationships within the community, ensure that all our financial resources
are set, and find sponsors and community support systems that will make this venture a great
success. We want to ensure that this league has every opportunity to succeed and waiting a year
will give us that opportunity. So, be prepared because, in 2024, we will be saying, “Play Ball!”
Baseball is rich in history along the U.S.-Mexican border. At the turn-of-the-century, several outlaw leagues were home to the area from El Paso, Texas heading west into eastern and central Arizona.
The Copper League established itself in the early 1910’s and survived until the mid-1920’s. Some of the 1919 Chicago White Sox players that were banished from Major League Baseball because of the betting scandal, found teams in this league to join.
The Arizona State League sprouted up as a semi-pro league in the early 20’s and played alongside the Copper League. When the Copper League disbanded, the Arizona State League gained steam and in 1928, the league entered into the National Association of Professional Baseball Clubs (Minor Leagues) as an affiliated Class C professional league and the average player was an astonishing 30 years old.
The Arizona State League played for three years and beginning for the 1931 season, two clubs were added, Nogales, Sonora and El Paso, Texas, thus, the league was renamed the Arizona-Texas League. The league was active nine of those years under that name until 1955, taking breaks for the war and several economic downturns. The league was a Class D level league until it became Class C beginning the 1950 season.
In 1951, the Arizona-Texas loop merged with the Sunset League (based primarily in California but with teams in Nevada and New Mexico) to form the Southwest International League. However, the Arizona-Texas League clubs played only that one season in the new circuit before seceding and reforming the AZTXL in 1952.
in 1955, when the league lost El Paso, its lone Texas franchise, its name was formally changed to the Arizona-Mexico League.
The Arizona–Mexico League is administratively active and has a goal to begin its reincarnated season in 2023 as an independent baseball league. The league constitution states that any team in the league must be in a community that has had a team in the league in previous years.
Warren Ballpark in rural Bisbee, Ariz., was built by a copper mining company in 1909, making it one of the oldest baseball parks still in use today. It's home to high school players now, but the field is getting a facelift for a new professional team. Mark Moran of member station KJZZ reports.