ABILENE, Texas - Fans are disappointed that the Abilene Prairie Dogs will not play this season. Creditors are mad because the team owes them money.
Baseball fans may have to wait patiently until a $4 to 5 million dollar stadium is built that can accommodate up to 4,000 people. That's what United League Baseball CEO John Bryant said who owns the Prairie Dogs. They need a professional baseball stadium in the city in order to make a profit.
"A professional baseball team has to play in a professional stadium, a commercially viable stadium," Bryant said.
So, what needs to change in order to make pro baseball profitable in Abilene?
The Prairie Dogs came back last year at McMurry's Walt Drigger's Field. Bryant said they left because rent at the McMurry facility was too high and the team got no revenue from alcohol sales, which wasn't allowed.
"It's expected by professional baseball fans that they are able to buy beer," Bryant said.
Bryant confirmed to KTXS they owe money to McMurry University. He said, the league was forced to purchase a stadium in Fort Worth for $5.1 million where their Fort Worth team plays.
So what will it take to get a ballpark in Abilene?
"What has to happen in each city is that the civic leadership and the elected officials have to come together and decide how far they want to go in trying to make it happen," Bryant said.
Abilene Mayor Norm Archibald told us the city could contribute. He said land has been the only thing discussed.
"If the city ended up providing them land one of the things that was discussed is they would build a stadium that they would donate to the city and they would use it for their purposes," Archibald said.
And if the team folded up shop in Abilene again?
"If they ever did leave the city some day the stadium would belong to the City of Abilene," Archibald said.
KTXS asked McMurry how much the company owes them in rent payments. They declined to give us any information.