The Fayetteville (N.C.) City Council received a report on the feasibility of a new High-A Carolina League ballpark and spent last night’s meeting discussing financing and costs before voting to move forward on negotiations with the Houston Astros on a lease and potential construction contribution.
We reported yesterday on the report from Barrett Sports Group, Populous and Hunt Construction Group, indicating that the market could support a Carolina League team. Coincidentally, two teams are being moved from the California League to the Carolina League (including a team at Kinston’s Grainger Stadium), so that puts the Astros in position to place a new team in Fayetteville, probably at a site near the Prince Charles Hotel first proposed by developers.
So last night the city council voted 10-0 to move forward with a work group on Wednesday and potentially a vote next Monday to move ahead with negotiations with the Astros. The Astros presented the city with a letter of intent to negotiate, but it was clear the team wasn’t willing to contribute a third of the cost of a new $46.9-million ballpark, as some city councillors assumed. That led to a discussion of whether a new ballpark could be built at a lower cost — say, the $23.8 million it cost to build Pensacola’s Blue Wahoos Stadium.
So talks will continue, but there are still big issues to be tackled, including the funding mechanism, a contribution from the Astros and a final budget. The assumption is that a new ballpark could be ready for 2018.
By the way: if Fayetteville does land a team, it looks like it could play temporarily at Campbell University’s Jim Perry Stadium. It is a small ballpark — a 2013 renovation yielded a new grandstand seating 630, including 310 chair-backed seats — but it was deemed the most viable out of the six alternatives mulled by the Astros, including a temporary Fort Bragg ballpark (too challenging logistically to play on a military base at a facility not intended for permanent use), J.P. Riddle Stadium (where the Coastal Plain League’s Fayetteville SwampDogs hold a lease) and ECU’s Lewis Field at Clark-LeClair Stadium (too far from Fayetteville).
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