Bexar County judge pushing to help fund new Missions baseball stadium

Judge Peter Sakai is hoping for a public-private partnership to build new downtown ballpark.

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County Commissioners on Tuesday authorized County Judge Peter Sakai to create a letter of intent with the San Antonio Missions baseball team to show that both sides are working on a plan for funding a new stadium.

"Major League Baseball has the authority to move the San Antonio Missions,” Sakai said. “It is our understanding through the local ownership that without this letter after August 1st, the San Antonio Missions could be subject to removal process by Major League Baseball. All we’re trying to assure Major League Baseball is that we are working and doing our very best to work in good faith to find a contract, a financial arrangement, with the local baseball ownership.”

Major League Baseball in 2022 raised the requirements for minor-league baseball facilities. Under the new requirements, the Missions’ current home, Nelson Wolff Stadium, would need to undergo major renovations. At the time, then-County Judge Nelson Wolff said it would be better to build a new stadium. The current ownership group has expressed interest in building one downtown along San Pedro Creek.

“It’s over by the SAISD administrative building and then that property all the way down to approximately Martin Street,” Sakai said. “Those are all properties that I understand Western Graham either purchased or is purchasing at this time.”

Sakai told reporters that he had conversations with the Missions ownership group about establishing a public-private partnership to fund a new stadium.

“Right now, there’s no offer whatsoever by the county,” Sakai said. “However, I will tell you in talking to, and I have talked to the local baseball ownership, I’ve asked them that it be a public private partnership, that there be significant equity provided by the private sector, by the local baseball ownership and whatever financing they will get, it’d be made available to. Also wanting to make sure that... ...the burden of this finance is not put on homeowners.”

The team was purchased by a group led by former Rackspace CEO Graham Weston in November of 2022. The City of San Antonio approved a new lease for the team following the sale. That lease runs until 2031.

In April 2023, ownership partner Bob Cohen told KSAT that Major League Baseball was OK with upgrades, but wanted the team in a new stadium.

“They want to make sure that you have a plan for a new ballpark, so they want to see progress, and we will continue to communicate as much as we can about the progress we’re making as we make it,” Cohen said in 2023.

As far as the county’s role in funding the new stadium, Sakai said county leaders will look at everything.

“We’ll look at the visitors tax. We’ll look at tax reinvestment zones will look like overlay districts that we can perhaps consider and partner up with the city of San Antonio,” Sakai said.

Sakai added that the work is just beginning.

“These are types of negotiations that affect private property rights, or they’re affecting, perhaps, the financial liabilities of both the city in the county,” Sakai said. “I’m not prepared today in any way to say that there is a contract, that there are any firm details. We are optimistic that we can create a public-private financing, of a proposed stadium for the San Antonio Missions.”

About the Authors

Sean Talbot is Manager of Content and Coverage at KSAT. He formerly served as the Assistant News Director and Assignments Manager. He joined KSAT in 2001. He graduated from Texas State with a degree in Mass Communication with a minor in Political Science. When he’s not working, he’s at home with his wife Lomisa and their daughters Grace and Sydney.

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

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