By Brandon Porter
There are talks of the Atlantic League adding more teams in the south and creating a four-team Southwest Division in the future. But when the Sugar Land Skeeters finally play ball in April 2012, they will spend a lot of time flying to New England.
The league will decide later this week how many teams will be playing in 2012 and where the Skeeters and the Loudoun Hounds, the other expansion team, will be place. But if the eight current teams remain along with the two expansion teams, all the teams except one are over 1,200 miles away.
The one team that is less than 1,200 miles from the future spot of StarTex Power Field, the home of the Skeeters, are the Road Warriors. The Road Warriors live up to their name as they do not have a stadium. They are strictly a traveling team that gives the league two even divisions.
The closest team to StarTex Power Field are the Loudoun Hounds of Dulles, Va. The Hounds, who are 1,220 miles from the Skeeters, are also beginning their inaugural season in 2012. Their stadium will be called The Dog Yard and will seat 5,500 people.
The second closest stadium is Regency Furnature Stadium in Waldorf, Md., home of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. The Blue Crabs were the most recent team to join the league when they started play in 2008. Their stadium seats 4,200 and is 1,234 miles from the Skeeters.
The 5,200 person Sovereign Bank Stadium in York, Pa., home of last seasons’ champions the York Revolution, is 1,285 miles away. The Revolution is one of the newer teams to the league, joining in 2007.
Clipper Magazine Stadium, home of the Lancaster Barnstormers in Lancaster, Pa., is 1,307 miles away. Joining in 2005, the Barnstormers won the championship in 2006 after only one season. Clipper Magazine Stadium seats 6,000 which makes it one of the largest in the Atlantic League.
The Camden Riversharks, who joined in 2001, play 1,360 miles away in Camden, NJ., at Campbell’s Field. The 6,425 fan ballpark is currently the largest in the Atlantic League until StarTex Power Field’s 7,500 person stadium opens.
Bridgewater Township, NJ., holds TD Bank Ballpark; the 6,100 seat stadium that hosts the Somerset Patriots. The Patriots, one of the original teams in the Atlantic League, have won the most championships with five, including back-to-back in 2008-2009. TD Bank Ballpark resides 1,406 miles from Sugar Land.
The second furthest team will be the Long Island Ducks from Central Islip, NY., whose 6,002 seat stadium known as Bethpage Ballpark is 1,476 miles away. The Ducks, who joined in 2000, have only played in one championship, winning in 2004 over the Riversharks.
The furthest stadium from StarTex Power Field is the Bridgeport Bluefish’s Ballpark at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Ct., and sits 1,488 miles away. The Bluefish was one of the inaugural teams and won the 1999 championship.Their stadium capacity is 5,300.
Travel could be a problem in the first few years for the Skeeters. The most common team played could be the Road Warriors if they stay in the league in 2012, which will be all home games, until a Southwest Division is created. But until then, they will be flying back and forth between Texas and New England. But just like Houston Baptist University playing in the most spread out conference in order to rejoin NCAA Division I athletics, the only thing that really matters for Sugar Land is hearing the phrase — let’s play ball.