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Burlington Athletic Stadium expansion on tap

Burlington Athletic Stadium

The Burlington (N.C.) City Council is considering a proposal for Burlington Athletic Stadium expansion from the Burlington Sock Puppets (Appalachian League), adding an entertainment venue to the team’s home.

The plan, tentatively priced at $2 million, would add a new venue that could be used in a variety of ways, ranging from concerts to community meetings. As a plus, it would add a commercial kitchen to the mix, allowing for an upgrade of Burlington Athletic Stadium concessions. Some preliminary planning has taken place, with the city and team leaning toward a design-build approach to the project. From the Alamance News:

David Cheek, the city’s interim manager, attributed this particular idea to Anderson Rathbun – the general manager for the Burlington Sock Puppets, which is the resident baseball club at the city-owned stadium.

Rathbun, who was also on hand at the work session, explained that he has been kicking around the idea of an entertainment venue in the hope of turning his team’s seasonal home into more of a year-round attraction.“The ballpark is designed just to watch baseball,” Rathbun told the council that evening. “It’s not designed for what we want to do which is to watch entertainment.

“This ballpark can be a huge catalyst not just for the east side of Burlington but all of Burlington,” he added, “if it’s activated the right way.”

The venerable ballpark last received upgrades before the 2019 season. The ballpark was originally located in Danville and served as the home of the Danville Leafs (Carolina League) from 1945 to 1958. The Leafs folded after the 1958 season, and the city of Burlington bought the whole thing for $5,000. Piece by piece the ballpark was moved to Burlington. In the current ballpark, the steel structure and roof are from that original Danville ballpark, but the original wooden grandstand floor and seats were replaced with aluminum decking and seats when the B-Tribe began play in 1986. Yes, after several rewrites, we’ll be soon offering a third edition of Cradle of the Game: North Carolina Baseball Past and Present; sign up for the August Publications newsletter for advance notice of a presale.

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