JONATHAN YTURALES | EL PASO HERALD POST
For the second time in 2019, the El Paso Chihuahuas will host one of Minor League Baseball’s (MiLB) premier events – the Minor League Baseball Innovators Summit and the Minor League Baseball Innovators Summit Trade Show.
“The Minor League Baseball Innovators Summit is an official proclamation and accurate depiction that our 160 teams are all industry leaders in creativity, inclusion and showmanship,” said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O’Conner. “Simply put, there is nothing minor about Minor League Baseball, and this event proves that.”
The summit will take place at the El Paso Convention Center and Performing Arts Center including the Abraham Chavez Theatre and the Judson F. Williams Convention Center, as well as Southwest University Park, home of the El Paso Chihuahuas and the El Paso Locomotive FC.
The summit will bring more than 500 MiLB executives from nearly all MiLB teams, trade show exhibitors and event partners from around the country to downtown El Paso for four days of industry workshops, seminars, sharing of ideas and best practices and will culminate in an event and awards presentation at Southwest University Park.
Alan Ledford, president of MountainStar Sports Group and the Chihuahuas said, “Part of the vision for Southwest University Park was for it to serve as a catalyst for economic development and a means to improve the quality of life in this region. We are honored to once again welcome hundreds of executives and show vendors from around the country to El Paso.
“This represents another opportunity to show off our unmatched hospitality and the great things happening throughout our community and downtown.”
Started as the El Paso Promotional Seminar in 1976 by Jim Paul, former owner of the El Paso Diablos, the meeting brought together industry leaders to discuss challenges facing the business and to explore innovative ways to give baseball fans the best experiences when attending a baseball game.
The meeting quickly grew and has become an annual premier event for executives and staff in Minor League Baseball.
Brad Taylor, senior vice president and general manager of MountainStar Sports Group, began working on bringing the seminar back to its original home in El Paso during the 2014 inaugural season of the El Paso Chihuahuas.
During the 2018 MiLB Promotional Seminar in Des Moines, Iowa, Taylor’s hard work was rewarded when it was announced that El Paso would become the host city for the newly-rebranded MiLB Innovators Summit in 2019.
“It is only appropriate in an anniversary year that this event comes full circle and returns home to El Paso,” Taylor said. “Our goal was to bring the new generation of Minor League operators to our great city to learn from each other and to celebrate and remember what Jim Paul and the Diablos started. Now the Chihuahuas carry it forward.”
With the return to El Paso in 2019, the MiLB Promo Seminar now has a new name and logo – the Minor League Baseball Innovators Summit. The summit will include four days of presentations, keynote speakers, including Paul, workshops including a Ticketing Symposium presented by Tickets.com, charity events, a trade show and a Women in Baseball event to name a few.
Attendees will participate in the MiLB CommUNITY Service Project, presented by Musco Sports Lighting and Uncle Ray’s, on Monday, Sept. 23 at the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) located at 7060 Comington St.
The four-day summit culminates with an event at Southwest University Park on Thursday, Sept. 26, that includes the annual Golden Bobblehead Awards, honoring those teams that have had the most unique and creative promotions or events during the 2019 season.
Southwest University Park has seen its share of premier MiLB events since it opened its doors in 2014. The Chihuahuas hosted the Gildan Triple-A National Championship in 2015 in front of a nationally-televised standing room only crowd.
On the heels of the success of the game and during the 2017 season, MiLB announced that MountainStar Sports Group and the El Paso Chihuahuas, would host another nationally-televised premier event – the 2019 RMHC Triple-A All-Star Game and Jarritos Home Run Derby, two events that brought thousands of visitors to downtown El Paso and more than 16,000 patrons to Southwest University Park.
Ledford added, “MountainStar Sports Group has, as its mission, to bring a variety of events and activities to our ballpark. Events like the Innovators Summit fill our hotel rooms, restaurants, and bars while providing a perfect setting for out-of-town visitors.”
The two events have brought in nearly 2,000 out-of-town guests and an estimated $2 million in external revenue to downtown El Paso.
Since the inaugural season the Chihuahuas have welcomed more than three and a half million guests through the Southwest University Park gates paving the way for the acquisition of a United Soccer League team – the El Paso Locomotive FC.
More importantly, the ballpark has become a showcase venue in El Paso, hosting non-sporting events such as the Way Out West Country Music Festival, the Michelob Ultra El Paso Marathon and the El Paso Strong city-wide celebration.
The scale of such events as the Innovators Summit and the Way Out West Festival continue to have an impact on the City of El Paso.
“With the Chihuahuas and Locomotive entering their seventh and second seasons, respectively, it is certain Southwest University Park will continue to thrive and serve as a gathering place for the community,” officials added.
The summit begins Monday, Sept. 23 and concludes on Thursday, Sept. 26.