Tyler And Longview Could Be Home To Minor League Baseball Teams

It has been almost five years since the crack of minor league bats was a fixture in East Texas.

But local families could soon be spending their evenings checking out the pros, again. The newly formed Continental Baseball League and some key investors have their eyes set on Tyler and Longview. 

"Our vision with the Continental Baseball League is to bring baseball back to what it was in the 30's 40's 50's," said Ron Baron, President and CEO of the league.

"We saw a niche, a need and opportunity for community based, family friendly and affordable local professional baseball," he explained.

Tom Mullins with the Tyler Chamber of Commerce said what makes this league different, is a focus on local ownership and the potential of two teams from Tyler and Longview pitted against each other.

"If they can find local ownership in Tyler the chances are they will put the team and the park in Tyler, and the same is true for Longview," Mullins said.

Sean Collins knows what it will take for a team to survive in this area. The baseball coach at Brook Hill and former Tyler Wildcatter said it is going to take a big marketing push as well as,  "a great facility that caters to families but also that caters to a couple that wants to go out for a date and they are going to watch a ball game."

Despite the family atmosphere, many feel alcohol sales could make or break the league.

"That attracts a whole segment that sort of associates going out watching a ball game and having a hot dog and beer," Tom Mullins said.

It was widely believed that the loss of two minor league teams in Tyler in just five years was due to the lack of alcohol sales at games.

If interested investors build their own park instead of using existing parks owned by the cities or school districts, beer and a ball game would not be an issue.

Sean Collins said he does not support the use of alcohol, however he knows the lack of beer for many of the seasons at the Wildcatters games was a big downfall of the season.

"It's baseball," he said. "I think it's part of going and watching a ball game."

Ron Baron said the league can make it without the sale of alcohol and said the CBL has tentative approval to use UT Tyler's Irwin Field, minus the alcohol.

"We think it's a wonderful facility, it's state of the art, we'll enhance the seating," he said.

 A decision on professional baseball in East Texas could be made by the end of the week.