There is some personnel news in Kinston, as the Texas Rangers have hired Wade Howell to be the club’s general manager. Howell will oversee operations for the Rangers-owned team, which is set to begin play at Grainger Stadium next season as part of the shift of two High-A California League franchises to the Carolina League.
Howell, who has spent the last five seasons with the Rangers’ major league club as Senior Director of Media Sales, has over 20 years of professional and intercollegiate sports experience. He will oversee all of the day-to-day business, stadium, and administrative operations for the franchise. Howell will be starting in his new role this week, when he plans to be in Kinston for a series of meetings and updates.
On August 22, the Rangers announced that the organization had entered into an agreement to purchase controlling interest from Minor League Baseball in the new Kinston club. A second new franchise to be announced will expand the Carolina League to ten teams beginning with the 2017 season and mark a return of professional baseball to Kinston for the first time since 2011.
“Wade has been a key driver in the business success of the Texas Rangers over the past five seasons,” said Joe Januszewski, President, Rangers Kinston LLC and Texas Rangers Executive Vice President. “His commitment to structuring mutually beneficial partnerships, his integrity, and natural people skills have made him an asset at every stop on his career path.
“We are thrilled Wade wanted to take on the challenge of helping us bring baseball back to Kinston and Eastern North Carolina. All of us at the Rangers are looking forward to supporting Wade and his team’s efforts in preparing for professional baseball at Grainger Stadium next spring.”
Hired by Texas in January, 2012, Howell was responsible for building and expanding the club’s radio sales team with the result being the Rangers have reached record setting sponsorship revenues five years running. He has also been involved in a variety of other initiatives for the Rangers’ corporate sales group.
Prior to joining the Rangers, Howell served as Vice President and General Manager of IMG College’s sports properties in the Greensboro, North Carolina area at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Elon University. He worked extensively with the Greensboro Coliseum and coordinated other statewide collegiate sponsorships with schools such as Appalachian State, Duke, East Carolina, Wake Forest, and Western Carolina. Howell has also worked in similar roles at UNLV and Boston College.
Howell is a native of Stockbridge, Georgia, and earned his BA and Master Degree in Sports Administration from Georgia State University.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to help develop and grow this new team in Kinston,” said Howell. “My wife, Heather and I both have family in the Carolinas, and we are really looking forward to becoming part of the Kinston community.”
The Rangers will be playing at Kinston’s Grainger Stadium, which hosted a Carolina League franchise in all but three seasons over a 50-year span from 1962-2011. The rich history of professional baseball in Kinston dates back to 1921. The Cleveland Indians had their Carolina League affiliate in Kinston from 1987-2011 before the franchise moved to Zebulon, NC for the 2012 season.
The franchise is formally known as Rangers Kinston LLC with the Texas Rangers owning controlling interest. Cam McRae, former majority owner of the Kinston Indians, will also be a limited partner in the group.
The Rangers are planning a multi-year renovation project for Grainger Stadium with home and visiting clubhouse, weight room, and concession stand expansion scheduled to be completed for the 2017 season.
Information on the new Kinston franchise can be found at www.KinstonBaseball.com. The website has links for the Name the Team contest, where fans can help select a nickname for the new franchise, for 2017 season ticket information, and for Kinston Baseball and Texas Rangers merchandise.