Wichita lands Triple-A affiliated baseball team


Hannah Roberts

A lone baseball sets on the edge of the dugout at Eck Stadium.

Mayor Jeff Longwell made the long-awaited announcement of the future of baseball in Wichita Thursday. The New Orleans Baby Cakes, a Triple-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins, will file for relocation to Wichita.

The team will be housed in a new facility. Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, the sixth oldest operating ballpark in the country, will be torn down; the city will announce a demolition bid this fall.

“[Lawrence-Dumont] cannot be salvaged,” Longwell said of the stadium, built in 1934.

The Baby Cakes, who play in the Pacific Coast League, will relocate to Wichita for the 2020 season.

“A lot of people thought we wouldn’t be able to land a team of this level,” Longwell said. “This is simply not the case.”

Gov. Jeff Colyer said the implications of the deal could drastically benefit Wichita.

“This might change the perception that Wichita is a quiet, little Midwest town,” Colyer said at the announcement Thursday.

The stadium is expected to cost in the range of $60 million — $73 million with full amenities. One such amenity would be a museum to commemorate the National Baseball Congress, which has its roots in Wichita.

Selena Favela
Head Coach Todd Butler is interviewed during baseball media day.

WSU Implications

Affiliated baseball tends to improve the public’s overall interest in sports, WSU Head Coach Todd Butler said.

“Any time you have professional baseball around, it’s a big deal,” Butler said. “This’ll get more people energized for baseball in Wichita.”

Butler, who is in his fifth year at WSU, has coached four players who were taken by the Miami Marlins. Most recently, former pitcher Tyler Jones was taken in the 26th round by the Marlins last year.

“It’s going to be exciting watching guys who played at Wichita State in our area as they make their way up through the Triple-A, whether they’re playing for the Marlins or in another Triple-A system,” Butler said.

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Wichita State junior Alec Bohm throws to first in the game against KU Wednesday evening at Eck Stadium.

Alec Bohm played third base for WSU last season. Earlier this summer, the Philadelphia Phillies drafted Bohm with the No. 3 overall pick. He’s expected to spend some time in the minor league system before he works his way up to the major league. Bohm said he expects Triple-A baseball to bring more awareness to baseball in Wichita.

“I hope it grows the fan base for baseball in the city,” Bohm said. “There will be really good talent — a lot of guys who are coming up and down from the big leagues and guys who are working their way up to the big leagues — and that’ll be an exciting change Wichita hasn’t seen in some time.”

WSU had 11 players — the second-most of any school in the country — taken in this year’s MLB draft. Triple-A baseball is the highest level of minor league baseball.

Wichita has been without affiliated baseball since 2007, when a Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, the Wichita Wranglers, left for a new stadium in Springdale, Arkansas.

“Any time you have more baseball, it’s better,” Butler said.