The Asheville Tourists (High-A; Sally League) and local municipalities are debating mandated McCormick Field updates, estimated to cost at least $30 million.
McCormick Field is one of those classic Carolinas ballparks; it opened in 1924 and over the years hosted a slew of baseball greats, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson and Heinie Manush. (Before you get too excited, note these two things. First, running across a ballpark where Babe Ruth played isn’t that unusual, when you consider how extensively he barnstormed with the Yankees, on his own and with Lou Gehrig. Second, we just love calling out one of the great baseball names, Heinie Manush. The larger point is that many greats played at McCormick Field over the years.) As a modern pro venue, it’s a lovely venue for fans, not so much for players and MLB organizations seeking the ideal development environment.
So it’s no surprise the Tourists will need some major McCormick Field updates to meet the new MiLB facility standards imposed by Major League Baseball and also to improve the fan experience. The cost of these extensive upgrades: $30 million, according to Owner/President Brian DeWine.
The bulk of the money would be spent on player facilities, including upgraded LED lights, expanded clubhouses, new workout facilities and batting cages, and an expanded women’s changing room.
new locker rooms, a weight room, batting cages, and LED lights.
On the fan-experience side, DeWine’s wish list includes a new scoreboard, an expanded 360-degree concourse and an expanded front entrance.
The City of Asheville owns the ballpark, so talks of ballpark improvements have included the city as well as Buncombe County. Also approached because of the Tourists’ economic impact in the community: the local Tourism Development Authority (TDA). From WLOS:
The facility is owned by the City of Asheville and leased to the team, muddying the waters of who is responsible for funding the upgrades….
“The city’s role with McCormick Field is to help with capital improvements, to stay in line with requirements for Major League Baseball, so that the minor league team can continue operating in the stadium,” said Chris Corl, Community Regional Entertainment and Facilities Director for the City of Asheville.
McCormick Field is one of baseball’s treasures because of the many greats taking the field over the years. Let’s hope the upgrades–if they happen–include plenty of that history for fans to enjoy at McCormick Field.