The Wilmington Blue Rocks (High-A; Sally League) and the Riverfront Development Corporation of Delaware (RDC) extended the team’s lease at Judy Johnson Field at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium through the 2030 season.
The previous Frawley Stadium lease was set to expire at the end of the 2023 season. Finalized before the New Year, the new agreement was just formally approved by Major League Baseball.
The Blue Rocks have called Frawley Stadium home since the team’s inception in 1993 and have essentially operated under that same original lease for the past thirty years. The new lease updates and replaces that older version and includes an option to extend the team’s presence in Wilmington even longer.
“This is a great day for all Blue Rocks fans,” said the team’s Managing Partner, Dave Heller, via press statement. “In making all of the facilities improvements now required by Major League Baseball, this lease ensures our fans can continue to see the next generation of Major League stars right here in Wilmington today, then turn on MASN and see those same players starring for the Washington Nationals very soon thereafter. All of us with the Blue Rocks are grateful to Megan McGlinchey, Andrew Layman, and the Board of the RDC for working with us to bring this great day to fruition. We also deeply appreciate the efforts of Governor Carney and the Delaware legislature to fund the MLB-mandated player improvements to keep affiliated baseball right here in Wilmington.”
“As the new owners of Frawley Stadium, the RDC wanted to ensure that professional, affiliated minor league baseball would stay in Wilmington,” said RDC Executive Director Megan McGlinchey via press statement. “The Blue Rocks were the pioneers of riverfront development in the early 90’s, and now with this new lease, they will continue to be an integral part of our plans for many years to come.”
The Blue Rocks originally relocated from Hampton, VA, where they were known as the Peninsula Pilots, following the 1992 baseball season. Frawley Stadium (originally Legends Stadium) was built by Minker Construction, whose principal, the late Matt Minker, went on to buy the team. The cornerstone piece of the redevelopment of the Wilmington Riverfront, the ballpark opened in less than six months. The first pitch of Blue Rocks baseball took place on Saturday, April 17, 1993, in front of 5,731 fans. In the 30 seasons that followed, the five-time champion Blue Rocks and Frawley Stadium have hosted 10 Mills Cup Carolina League Championship Series and four All-Star Games (1994, 1998 Carolina League, and 2002, 2014 Carolina-California League).
Amongst the team’s owners is Matt’s son, Clark Minker, who has worked closely with Heller to oversee the team’s operations and ensure it continues to serve the people of Wilmington, where he was born and raised. “The experience of building the stadium with my late father, and the father-son catch we had in the outfield just before the gates opened 30 years ago, are memories I will forever cherish,” Minker said via press release. “I am grateful to the State of Delaware, the RDC, and the entire team of people that came together to renew our lease for the next decade of families to enjoy baseball on the riverfront.”