Don’t question whether minor league baseball and the Chihuahuas matter to the city of El Paso, Texas because the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate has drawn more to the ball park in one season than any sport in the city’s history and helped grow the local businesses in and around the local community.
Through 42 games this season and only 26 games home games left to play for the Chihuahuas, they have compiled 32 sellout crowds totaling 343,541 so far at Southwest University Park.
The previous record for games in El Paso was 329,233 set by the 1995 Diablos at Cohen Stadium after a full 72-game season. Sun Bowl Stadium, who host football games for the University of El Paso, Texas, amassed 287,394 for six football games in 2005 while the UTEP men’s basketball peaked at 231,356 fans in the 1983-1984 season.
Despite the Chihuahuas sitting in second place in the Southern Division of the Pacific Coast League nine games back from first place Las Vegas, fans continue to flock to games in support of the local team.
Similar to the way Petco Park helped revitalize the downtown district of San Diego, the arrival of the Padres’ affiliate from Tuscon has helped grown the local community and create a baseball atmosphere in a city that one would least suspect.
The Spokesman for the Downtown Management District Rudy Vasquez states, “the businesses that have benefited the most from the ballpark have been the ones that are closer to the stadium and share similar demographics. A bar or restaurant such as Sparrows or SoHo Sports Lounge have televisions showing sports and ballparklike food such as pizzas and hot dogs. So baseball fans are likely to go there before and after a game.”
The arrival of the Padres’ and the Chihuahuas to the city of El Paso shows that summertime baseball can have an enormous impact anywhere in the United States.