As you’ll recall, last summer Fayetteville officials and local business investors raised the idea of a new downtown ballpark. Now, with the potential of an available MiLB team, the idea is being raised again. But a return of MiLB to Fayetteville is far from a done deal, and many dominoes need to fall before a first shovel of dirt is overturned.
Let’s get back and address that potential Carolina League team. Its availability is far from a done deal, but here’s the scenario. Currently the Binghamton Mets (Class AA; Eastern League) and Main Street Baseball are in mediation over the potential sale of the team; Main Street Baseball says it had an agreement to buy the team, while the B-Mets say they were merely negotiating. If Main Street Baseball ends up with the B-Mets, a move to Wilmington, Del., is next. That would trigger a sale of the Wilmington Blue Rocks (High Class A; Carolina League) to the Texas Rangers, who would need to find a new home for the franchise in 2016. That new home, reportedly, is Kinston, a former Carolina League market. But no one sees Grainger Stadium as a permanent home for Minor League Baseball: Kinston is a small market (Lenoir County’s population is 58,914, and you need to go a long ways out to hit a 100,000 market population), and Grainger Stadium is a short-term fix.
Which leaves open the distinct possibility that the Rangers would entertain offers for a new home for the team. Enter Fayetteville, which is a larger market (200,439 in 29014) and has a track record of supporting baseball in recent years, as evidenced by the popularity of the Fayetteville SwampDogs (summer collegiate; Coastal Plain League).
Now, all of this talk about a downtown Fayetteville ballpark is preliminary — something advocates admit. Fayetteville has changed a lot in recent years: downtown has been cleaned up and there’s been a growth of the economy independent of military spending. But if a team becomes available, you can bet that talk accelerates.