Wilmington Sharks (summer collegiate; Coastal Plain League) owners are pitching up to $3.5 million in improvements to Buck Hardee Field, a move they say will keep the Sharks in town — and potentially land a Minor League Baseball team.
The Sharks’ lease at Buck Hardee Field ends at the end of the 2019 season, but team owner Matt Perry of National Sports Services says his group wants to stay there — albeit after some $3.5 million in ballpark improvements. National Sports Services would cover 43 percent of the improvements via increased rent, with the rest financed by local governments. From the StarNews:
In a preliminary concept presented Wednesday, field’s footprint would be expanded to add a permanent office area, beer garden, two-level picnic deck and other amenities, including a video board in center field. Suites would also be added along the first-base line and dugouts would be sunken into the ground in order to allow additional seating behind them.
Part of the group’s motivation, Perry said, is to create a site that could ultimately bring a minor-league baseball team coming to Wilmington.
“The next time the market is approached by an affiliated team saying, ‘We’re interested in coming there,’ there’s now a thought-out solution,” Perry said.
Wilmington is seen as a desirable open market in MiLB circles. In 2012 the Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball pursued a new ballpark for a High-A Carolina League team, only to see voters reject the proposal. The last affiliated team to play in Wilmington was the Wilmington Waves (Low A; Sally League), a team that moved to Albany and then Columbus before ending up in Bowling Green.
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