The Alamodome on Friday and Saturday will host MLB preseason games between the Rangers and Padres in "what has been billed 'Big League Weekend,'" according to Richard Oliver of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. The two-game series will be "shoe-horned into a facility constructed specifically for football." The 16-foot-high, right-field fence "will loom only 285 feet away." From that "short porch, however, the wall angles quickly toward a deep center-field point more than 400 feet from the hitter." Most players "seem more intrigued than concerned about the unusual setup inside the dome." The five-day job to construct the ballpark is "being fully financed" by Ryan Sanders Baseball, the company co-owned by Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan. He sees the investment as "an opportunity to tap into a fertile South Texas baseball market." After this year's games, there is the "possibility of two additional two-year extensions to the deal with the city." While Ryan Sanders officials did not disclose financials, a source said that this weekend's games "will cost the group about" $2M. More than $1M "will go toward the installation of the ballfield itself." Additionally, the company is "covering all expenses for the Alamodome over both days." Ryan Sanders will "keep profits from concessions, parking and most ticket sales, with the city getting progressive bonuses if certain attendance markers are hit" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 3/28).
TAKING TEXAS BY THE HORNS: Oliver writes the Rangers with the exhibition games are "making a pitch for hearts in South Texas." Ryan said, "We feel like we've developed some good fans here in San Antonio, and feel like there's an opportunity to expand our market in Texas. Our goal is to be Texas' team." The Astros, who "traditionally have claimed a strong fan base in the area, are reeling." Unless a last-minute deal can be struck with any of the major cable providers in the San Antonio area, Astros fans "won't see the club" on TV with the exception of FS Southwest's telecasts of Astros-Rangers games. FS Southwest Senior VP & GM Jon Heidtke said, "It'll be 150 games, April to the end of the season, all Rangers, all the time." The Rangers, "before gaining that additional muscle, already were making their move in the San Antonio market." Rangers officials and players see this weekend as "another way to strengthen that hold" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 3/29).