El Paso Diablos meet with Joplin, MO City Council on Monday, discuss relocation

Diablos, Joplin in negotiations to move team

EL PASO, Texas - ABC-7 has learned that the El Paso Diablos baseball team may be on the move to Joplin, Missouri.

Late Monday night ABC-7 Sports Director Asher Wildman checked the agenda for the Joplin city council work session held this Monday, and it called for a discussion on the "potential use for Joe Becker Stadium."

On Monday night, Diablos General Manager Matt LaBranche made a presentation to the Joplin City Council.

During the presentation it was stated that the Diablos would move to Joplin if city officials would agree to renovate and lease their stadium-  Joe Becker Stadium. The stadium was built in 1913 and currently seats 1,070 fans.

"The City of Joplin expressed interest a while back, and they jumped ahead of other prospective cities," LaBranche told ABC-7 Monday night.

According to LaBranche, he estimated that the cost to the city for the renovations to the city's stadium would be about $6 million. The Diablos ownership group has talked with an architect on the potential renovations for Joe Becker Stadium, and the stadium is in need of concession space, seats, and an update.

"When we were in El Paso we were kind of on an island as far as teams go in the American Association of Independent Baseball, " LaBranche explained. "Joplin is centrally located for this league which would mean less travel expenses and is a city that really wants pro baseball."

The city of Joplin may build a plaza to help accommodate the growth and modernization of the city around the ballpark.

According to LaBranche the entire city showed their enthusiasm about the potential move by being present at the City Council meeting Monday.

"It was overwhelming the community presence we got at that meeting," LaBranche said.

Monday night the the council by a unanimous vote  9-0, approved further negotiations with the Diablos to making Joplin their new home.

"It was a great night," LaBranche said excitedly. "Mickey Mantle once played at Joe Becker Stadium, their team in the 1950's was called the Miners, Joplin is a baseball town, and its a town starved for pro baseball."

If the deal does go through, then the Joplin team-to-be-named later would start playing in 2015.

The Diablos played their final season in El Paso in 2013 with plans to take 2014 off to find a new city to play in.

The Diablos have been an independent minor league baseball team since 2005, first playing in the Central Baseball League, and then in the American Association independent league.

The team was a Double-A affiliate of various Major League Baseball teams from 1972 to 2004.

El Paso will be getting a Triple-A baseball team in 2014 when the El Paso Chihuahuas begin play in their new ballpark Downtown.

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