The El Paso Diablos announced new ownership yesterday – the Tigua Indian tribe which lives in and around the city are now the majority owners. The Diablos were a sister team to the AirHogs until the AirHogs were sold earlier this year, as both were owned by Ventura Sports Group. With the sale, Ventura goes from owning two teams to none in less than six months. Their website still shows both, and all the rest are “coming soon.”
Ventura will have an American Association expansion team in Laredo, TX starting next year, and Pete Incaviglia has been announced as manager.
I find it very interesting that a lot of the comments in the El Paso press about the sale echoed what was heard in Grand Prairie a few months back – team not doing well, attendance falling, stadium needs repairs.
If Ventura ever update their website (an unlikely proposition), I will be interested to see how this is actually declared a victory for them – which is how all sales will be spun by both sides.
The other parallel is that both the AirHogs and the Diablos now have “local ownership.” The AirHogs new owners live in Dallas (and own Shreveport and Amarillo teams – but field and team management are local or semi-local) and the Diablos owners are in El Paso and own other businesses there.
I never thought that “local” would be critical to team ownership, but it was mentioned in both sales as a positive. The El Paso press actually specifically mentioned that Ventura was from Wisconsin – and it reminded me of a Pace Picante sauce commercial long ago: “New York City???? Get a rope.”
Hopefully, the finances in El Paso aren’t in the same disarray the AirHogs apparently were, so the tribe can make it work. The Diablos do seem to have a relatively large, dedicated fan base, and very little competition in the area, so that will help. They also have the worst record in the division, which will make a negative difference eventually.
It will be interesting to see how long the “Wisconsin” company stays in Laredo. Since their website says they are owners (not any more, but coming soon), operators (“we put fans in stands”, except in Grand Prairie and El Paso) and developers (perhaps, it may be secret), they don’t seem to have a lot to do.