TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It's the start of a new era for baseball in Tucson. The Tucson Saguaros, part of the Pecos semi-professional league, kicked off their season at the Kino Sports Complex Thursday night, and left baseball fans yearning for more.
"It's just great to see live baseball and not have to drive out to Phoenix," said William Bevill, who was one of the first people in line for the game. "It has been too long and it's good to have something semi-professional back."
It's been a long time coming for the Old Pueblo. The last time Tucson saw their own baseball team play at Kino Stadium it was the Tucson Padres, but they left in 2013.
In fact, Tucson remains the largest city in the country without a professional baseball team. Though the city recently approved a deal that will bring professional hockey to town, some fans think it's time to focus on baseball.
"Losing spring training was a big loss for our community and economically," said Mike Feder, who ran Tucson's Triple-A teams for 15 years.
According to a Visit Tucson spokesperson, the city isn't currently making any efforts to bring in a professional baseball team. They said they're still working on other baseball opportunities but there aren't any teams interested in Tucson at the moment.
So, what does it take to bring Triple-A baseball team back to Tucson for good? Feder said it isn't easy.
"Something has to go wrong somewhere else," Feder said. "Somebody's city has to fail. An owner has to spend $20 million to decide to move the team here."
Feder also said the team would need a brand new facility, which, according to him, "there's not a great appetite for right now."
Pecos League commissioner Andrew Dunn believes the Tucson Saguaros are a good fit for the city due to the league's 'home base' being in New Mexico. They have teams in places such as Alamagordo, Roswell and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"We're low-level, independent rookie ball but, we've got very good players," Dunn said.
As hundreds of baseball fans watched the Saguaros take home their first win of the season against the Santa Fe Fuego, Feder believes a big component of keeping a pro-team in town lies in their hands'
"If people want to keep sports here, they've got to get behind them," said Feder. "If they don't get behind them, it's going to leave again."
Dunn, who welcomed hundreds of baseball fans at the game, said the Tucson Saguaros are going to give Tucson their best shot at keeping baseball alive.
"They're not Triple-A players and they're not big league players," Dunn said. "But I think right how, it's going to suffice the need for people that want to see baseball here and not have to drive to Phoenix. We're here and we're ready to play."
Do you want to head out to a Tucson Saguaro game? Check out their schedule HERE.