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DBH buys Down East, Hickory; will move Wood Ducks to new downtown Spartanburg ballpark

The Texas Rangers are selling the Hickory Crawdads (High-A; Sally League) and Down East Wood Ducks (Single-A; Carolina League) to Diamond Baseball Holdings (DBH), with the plan to move the Wood Ducks to a new downtown Spartanburg ballpark.

Neither sale is a surprise: we reported on both impending sales from the 2022 Winter Meetings. The move of the Wood Ducks is not a surprise, either; it was determined that it would be too costly to upgrade Kinston’s Grainger Stadium (think flood plain) to the new MiLB specs, triggering a search for a new home.

The new Spartanburg (S.C.) ballpark will be part of a new $250-million downtown mixed-use development that includes a 3,500-seat ballpark, office space, entertainment and housing. The 16-acre development site is owned by The Johnson Group; the city will build the ballpark with public money and lease it to the Wood Ducks, who could be playing there as soon as 2025, when new MiLB facility standards are set to launch. Private financing is planned for the development side of the equation.

“Additional affordable family entertainment coupled with needed white collar office space and other world class amenities will ensure downtown Spartanburg is an increasingly impactful economic engine for this region,” said Spartanburg Mayor Jerome Rice via press release.

We’re guessing it will take very little time for a summer-collegiate league to set up shop in Kinston.

“The Texas Rangers are excited to enter into this agreement with Diamond Baseball Holdings,” said Neil Leibman, Texas Rangers President of Business Operations and Chief Operating Officer, via press release. “We thank the staffs of the Crawdads and Wood Ducks for their outstanding efforts during our ownership, and we look forward to continuing our close relationship with both affiliates going forward.

“Pat Battle, Peter Freund, and the rest of the DBH team will be great partners to the Rangers organization through our ongoing affiliation with both clubs, and we have great confidence in their stewardship.”

“We are thrilled to welcome the Crawdads and Wood Ducks to the DBH family,” said Pat Battle and Peter Freund, Executive Chairman and CEO, respectively, of DBH, via press release. “Thank you to the Texas Rangers for entrusting us with the continuing success and growth of both of these clubs. We look forward to our partnership with the Rangers organization.”

The Crawdads and Wood Ducks will maintain their current front office staffs, led by Crawdads General Manager Douglas Locascio and Wood Ducks General Manager Jon Clemmons, respectively.

Both clubs will remain affiliates of the Texas Rangers under the ownership of DBH. The addition of the two teams puts the DBH lineup at 18 teams.

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