Pre-construction demolition of Fayetteville’s minor league baseball stadium begins in a week or two, following last week’s ceremonial groundbreaking.
There are no buildings to be razed; just driveways, sidewalks and a huge parking lot to be removed. Deputy City Manager Kristoff Bauer noted the rear of the property has to be elevated because it’s in a flood plain. It’s the general area where two railroad lines form an inverted V. “The culverts beneath the tracks will not be enlarged,” he said. So contractors will have to raise the rear section of the former Sears parking lot, which locals may remember from decades ago.
The $33 million minor league ballpark will be modeled somewhat after a larger stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. One feature borrowed from Columbia includes a 360-degree concourse that will encircle the playing field, making it possible to walk around the entire facility. Seating will vary from a grandstand to a lawn picnic area and party-style tables and chairs.
Initially, there were plans for the stadium to have two entrances. Those plans have been adjusted to keep the construction budget in line, and there will be only one entrance. The stadium capacity is set at nearly 4,800.
While the Houston Astros organization hasn’t said, tickets will likely range from $5 for general admission to $12 for the grandstand. Officials say construction should take about 18 months. The first ballgame will be in April 2019.
“The team name won’t be decided on until December,” said general manager David Lane. Names under consideration include the Fat Backs and the Jumpers.
Local officials believe the stadium and adjoining Prince Charles Hotel renovation, along with new hotel construction, will have the kind of positive downtown development impact that the opening of the Airborne and Special Operations Museum had in 2000.
“This is the true definition of what a successful public-private partnership looks like,” Baseball Committee Chairman Mitch Colvin said. He and other members of City Council have pledged that property taxes will not be raised to finance the new stadium. The Astros have contracted to have a minor league team play in Fayetteville for a minimum of 30 years. “Just look around. This is what I love about baseball,” Astros President Reid Ryan said at the ground breaking ceremony. He’s the son of major league hall of fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.
The multimillion-dollar renovation of the defunct Prince Charles Hotel is expected to begin soon, said PCH Holdings project manager Jordan Jones. “It will have 62 high-end apartments and 13,000 square feet of retail space,” Jones said. The eighth floor ballroom will be converted into a luxury penthouse that will lease for $3000 a month, he added.
Also in the year ahead is construction of a four-story hotel that Jones said will share a wall with the adjacent railroad station. It will be topped off with a four-story parking deck for hotel patrons. City officials don’t seem to be concerned about the loss of dozens of public parking spaces at the railroad station.