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Bristol (TN) could study new ballpark

Bristol PiratesThe city of Bristol — on the Tennessee side — may study the potential for a new Bristol Pirates (rookie; Appalachian League) ballpark if a consulting contract is approved by the City Council tonight.

The Pirates currently play at Bryce Cox Field in Bristol, Va., a basic 2,000-capacity ballpark dating back to 1969. It’s the Tennessee Bristol that’s looking at a new ballpark, however. The two Bristols are basically one city split by the Virginia-Tennessee state line. It’s also part of the greater Kingsport/Johnson City/Bristol MSA, hosting three Appy League teams.

The study would begin with a look at the other ballparks in the area and Appy League cities, as well as potential demand for a new ballpark. If the demand is there — and we’re guessing it is — a second phase of the study would explore ballpark options, financing strategies and the ongoing operational costs of a new ballpark. A final phase would recommend a ballpark configuration and budget.

If approved by the city council, the city and Bristol Baseball, Incorporated would split the cost of the study. Bristol Baseball manages the B-Pirates on behalf of team owner Pittsburgh Pirates. While the Appalachian League has been seen mainly as a player development system (as opposed to a fan-based operation) in recent years, success from the Pulaski Yankees (whose attendance attendance more than doubled in 2015 after $3.5 million in Calfee Park improvements) — and teams like the Greeneville Astros and Burlington Royals are causing some in the MiLB world to take a new look at the venerable circuit.

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