Triple-A baseball is coming back to Tucson — for four days.
The El Paso Chihuahuas, formerly the Tucson Padres, will play four games at Kino Stadium from April 11-14 against the Reno Aces.
Construction on the Chihuahuas’ new ballpark in El Paso won’t be completed in time for the originally scheduled home opener.
As a result, the Chihuahuas will play their first four “home” games at Kino Stadium.
“We’ll do the best we possibly can to entertain the fans and treat those four days with respect,” said former Tucson Padres general manager Mike Feder, now a consultant for El Paso. “I have about two months to come up with a plan.”
Tickets will go on sale for the four games on March 3.
The game times have yet to be set. It’s likely the games on the 11th and 12th will be night games, followed by a Sunday matinee game on the 13th. The Monday finale will likely be a night game.
The move isn’t a huge surprise. The Chihuahuas open their schedule with eight road games and then were supposed to open the new stadium in El Paso with a four-game set before returning to the road for 12 more games.
Instead, El Paso — the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A affiliate — will play its first 24 games away from home, before hosting its newly rescheduled opening day on April 28.
“While there was a possibility that the home opener could be played on April 11, we want to ensure we can offer the quality ballpark experience that El Paso deserves,” said Alan Ledford, the president of MountainStar Sports Group, the owners of the Chihuahuas.
Feder said the infrastructure is in place for a successful weekend at Kino Stadium. He plans to use vendors and ushers that worked at the park the past three years and Pima County will work on the field to get it game ready. Feder is also planning on rolling out some promotions during the four games.
The series is bound to dig up emotions, good and bad, for Tucson baseball fans. The Chihuahuas played here as the Padres, and the Aces — the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate — were once the Tucson Sidewinders. The Sidewinders’ departure led to the Padres’ stint at Kino Stadium, though it didn’t last long.
The Triple-A games also come during a busy sports weekend in Tucson. The Arizona Wildcats baseball team will host the defending national champions, UCLA, on April 11-13 at Hi Corbett Field. The UA football team will also play its spring game on April 12.
“This is just another choice for sports fans in Tucson,” Feder said.