Minor League Baseball is returning to Grainger Stadium and, if early reactions are any indication, Kinston is elated about its new team.
Kinston and Grainger Stadium have a long history of professional baseball, but that run was put on hiatus when the Kinston Indians relocated to Zebulon, NC after the 2011 season. Ever since the city has vied for another Carolina League entry, and its efforts paid off when it was announced on Monday that it will receive one of two California League teams–the High Desert Mavericks and Bakerfield Blaze–that are shifting Carolina League for the 2017 season. (The other location is not official, but Fayetteville is undoubtedly the leading contender.)
Thus far, residents and business owners are expressing their support for the new team, something that city officials hope will lead to strong attendance figures. More from Kinston.com:
Travis Quinn, director of sales for Mother Earth Brewery, hopes to possibly sell beer at the games.
“I am overjoyed that it’s back,” Quinn said. “I’m excited to sell some beer, I hope.”
Officials said with this opportunity residents can’t take baseball for granted.
“If people are excited about baseball, and they want baseball to stay they have to go to the games,” [city manager Tony] Sears said. “The team needs our support or we will be back in the same situation.”
Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers–who will own the team–have already begun community outreach. Evidence of this includes the newly-unveiled name the team contest. Through September 2, fans will be able to submit a name suggestion through Kinstonbaseball.com. The top five or six monikers will then be posted for voting.
An open house at Grainger Stadium, which includes an on-field ceremony, is scheduled for Thursday at noon. Kinston has waited years for the return of baseball, so it makes sense for the Rangers to start building early anticipation for what is to come.
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