As many expected: the Atlanta Braves have a conditional deal to buy the Lynchburg Hillcats (High Class A; Carolina League), in anticipation of moving the team to Wilmington, N.C.
The sale was announced today by GM Paul Sunwall.
The deal is conditional on a new ballpark being built in Wilmington, N.C., as part of a larger waterfront retail/hotel/marina complex. The city voted last night to enter into an exclusive negotiating period for a new ballpark with the Braves and Mandalay Baseball Properties.
“We want to make sure that the fans realize that we wouldn't have done this had we not been guaranteed of having another team come in here,” Sunwall told the News & Advance. “After nearly 50 years of business, there’s a time for a change. And the majority of the ownership group felt that way. The timing is right.”
Atlanta currently owns and operates teams at the Triple-A (Gwinnett), Double-A (Mississippi), Low Class A (Rome) and rookie (Danville) levels; all that's missing is a High Class A team.
One interesting note: Sunwall says the Braves also promised to help the city find a replacement in affiliated ball. We're guessing that replacement -- if it happens -- won't come at the Class A level. Lynchburg is probably more of an Appy League kinda town.
RELATED STORIES: New Wilmington ballpark would be part of hotel, marina complex; Wilmington to move forward with ballpark talks; Wilmington to discuss new Braves ballpark tomorrow night; Wilmington looks at development deal with Mandalay, Braves; Wilmington ballpark dead on arrival?; Another new effort for Wilmington minor-league baseball?
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