Set to open in 2019 for the current Buies Creek Astros (High A; Carolina League), a new downtown Fayetteville, NC ballpark is building expectations locally for its potential economic impact.
Currently under construction, the new Fayetteville ballpark is envisioned as being a part of a larger downtown redevelopment concept. The plan for a $37.8 million ballpark attached to a larger downtown development that includes offices, a hotel, and apartments was already drawing attention. It seems, however, that expectations have heightened since last week’s announcement that the ballpark will host the Big South Conference baseball championship tournament from 2019-2021.
Aside from providing the ballpark with a signature annual event, the tournament is also expected to add to the local economy. As the Fayetteville Observer covered in a Sunday editorial, local officials expect that the tournament will provide a boost to Fayetteville’s economy while serving as part of a larger plan for an active ballpark that hosts multiple types of events:
City officials say the tournament is likely to generate at least $1.5 million in economic activity. “But that’s a very conservative figure,” City Councilman Jim Arp said last week. “And that doesn’t include all of the beverages and sales tax, and all that kind of stuff. That’s just straight hotels and that type of calculation.” The Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament in Durham this year brought a $9.6 million economic impact to that city, Arp said.
Bringing additional events to the nearly $38 million ballpark is part of the Houston Astros’ contract with the city. Mark Zarthar, president of the Astros’ Class A affiliate that will play here, says he expects the 4,785-seat stadium to be filled nearly to capacity during the championship game of the Big South tournament, and maybe in some of the preliminary games as well.
But there will be more. The Astros intend to keep the new stadium busy between their own home games — at least one event a week, Zarthar says. “These events will of course include minor league and collegiate baseball, but also concerts, food festivals, wine tastings and viewing parties.” He says the organization is also looking at things as disparate as high school football, monster truck rallies and boxing matches. The stadium’s premium club, which can host private events for 150 people or more, has already booked retirement parties and weddings for next year.
Interest in the stadium comes as work proceeds on renovations of the old Prince Charles Hotel adjacent to the new ballpark. A parking deck, an office building and a new hotel will also soon rise on land around the stadium. The Prince Charles developers recently announced a deal with a Virginia developer who will bring three new restaurants to the complex.
Officials have been planning the ballpark as part of a larger development concept, hoping that the project will help boost economic activity in Fayetteville’s downtown. The ballpark is opening next spring for the Astros, who will rebrand prior to the 2019 season, and the development is expected to take shape over the ensuing years.
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