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High Gas Prices Leave The Diablos Team Paying Double To Travel

By Darren Hunt

EL PASO – Gas prices are affecting everyone. Some more than others.

Take for instance the El Paso Diablos, who play close to 50 baseball games a season on the road.

A few years ago, when the Diablos were still in the Double-A Texas League, they might not have been hit as hard by gas prices. But now, playing in the Independent American Association, they’ve seen travel costs double this season, affecting their bottom line.

“It hits you,” Diablos General Manager Matt LaBranche said. “It really does.”

LaBranche said there is no way to avoid striking out when it comes to setting up travel for the Diablos this season.

“At the end of the year, I would say it’s going to be close to double (the cost),” he said.

LaBranche projects the team will spend about $85,000 dollars on travel this season. “We were $40,000 to $50,000 last season,” he said.

The Diablos even went as far as parking their team bus, because diesel prices have gone so high, it’s become more economical for the team to charter buses or fly to away games.

“This next trip we get a little creative,” LaBranche said. “We bus to Shreveport. From there we go to Pensacola, which is essentially an 18-hour drive all the way back. And with gas prices the way they are, we’re actually busing to New Orleans and fly the guys back here.”

The American Association is one of the most spread out leagues in the country.

Five of the nine roadtrips, including Saint Paul, Sioux Falls, Sioux City, Lincoln and Pensacola, are more than one thousand miles … one way.

“Our league is probably, if you look at it travel-wise, a little more challenging than most leagues,” LaBranche said. “I haven’t heard anything from an industry standpoint of travel being an issue, but I’m sure it’s hitting every general manager’s bottom line.”

The Diablos are currently third in the American Association in attendance this season, drawing more than 4,000 fans per game. And it’s that kind of community support, LaBranche said, that’s helping the Diablos deal with higher travel costs this season.

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