It was a forgone conclusion, but that didn’t prevent some pomp and circumstance yesterday when Fayetteville (N.C.) and the Houston Astros signed a 30-year lease for a new ballpark in the city’s downtown area for the Buies Creek Astros (High A; Carolina League).
The new ballpark is expected to open for the 2019 season. Attending yesterday’s ceremonies were Astros Team President Reid Ryan, Buies Creek and Fayetteville General Manager David Lane, Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson and Carolina League President John Hopkins.
“The Astros are excited to be affiliated with the City of Fayetteville. It’s a city with rich history, friendly people and a background in baseball,” said Ryan. “This agreement will be part of a dynamic revitalization of downtown Fayetteville, which will bring great crowds and a Major League environment for our players to develop. Player development is a huge part of the Astros success and Fayetteville will be a home for the club’s top prospects as they make their way to the Major Leagues.”
“Thanks to the Houston Astros and the hard work of City Council and staff, big things are about to happen for Fayetteville,” said Robertson. “I’m very proud to lead this renaissance that will bring about a quarter million people to our downtown for approximately 70 games a year, in addition to all of the new events and the new splash pad that will be housed in the stadium. The new stadium will serve as an economic development catalyst for the downtown area and Fayetteville as a whole.”
The new Fayetteville team is the result of a shift of two High-A franchises from the California League to the Carolina League this offseason. The Buies Creek Astros will play for two years at Jim Perry Stadium at Campbell University before moving to the new ballpark. (The Texas Rangers own the other new team, which will play out of Grainger Stadium in Kinston.)
There is still a slew of news coming down the pike about the new team, including a ballpark design, a rebranding (the Buies Creek Astros is a temporary moniker) and more. Still, this is a big move for the city, as it brings affiliated minor league baseball back to Fayetteville for the first time since 1998, when the Fayetteville Generals played in the Low-A South Atlantic League.
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