Creating a brand and building an image for a new minor league baseball team is not something that concerns the Fayetteville City Council. At least that’s the belief of Council’s baseball committee chaired by Mayor Pro Tem Mitch Colvin. In Colvin’s eyes, that’s up to the owners of the franchise.
By the end of this month the City expects to finalize a binding contract with the Houston Astros to host a Carolina League Single A minor league ball club. The City has chosen the site behind the former Prince Charles Hotel downtown for a $33 million stadium to be patterned after a Triple A stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. The city owns the property, which represents a significant saving.
If the project remains on schedule, the City hopes to begin construction of the ball park in July. Mayor Pro Tem Colvin points out that their obligation is to provide the ball park. The Astros will manage the team and operate the stadium under a $250,000 annual lease with Fayetteville.
“The city is not involved in the operation of the team and their decisions,” he said.
A question under consideration is where will the Fayetteville team play while the stadium is under construction? That decision is the province of the parent organization. But it appears that team won’t be playing in Fayetteville.
“I am certain we will begin to see more activity in the days to come by the Astros,” Colvin added.
J.P. Riddle Stadium on Legion Road has been considered as a temporary home for the team. It hosted previous minor league teams — the Fayetteville Generals and Cape Fear Crocs. County government, which owns the stadium, was asked by Minor League Baseball to upgrade the facility to help boost sagging attendance. The county declined. The Crocs were sold in 2000, and moved to New Jersey. For the last 15 years, the college summer league Swamp Dogs have called Riddle Stadium home. Colvin tells Up & Coming Weekly that an unnamed county commissioner said he “did not believe the Swamp Dogs were interested in subleasing their stadium to the Astros Minor League team.”
An option that the Astros organization may consider is playing at Jim Perry Stadium at Campbell University. According to Campbell’s website, the park’s refurbished grandstand seats 630 fans. It’s 35 miles from Fayetteville in Harnett County. Colvin doesn’t see that as an impediment to developing support for the new team. “I am confident in the ability of this professional organization to engage and get the support of the local community,” he said.
When asked whether his committee has given any thought to playing at Methodist University or Fayetteville State University? Colvin said “I do not have an answer on Methodist University’s field, and I am not aware of FSU having a viable baseball stadium that would accommodate the new team,” noting again that it was the City’s job to build the stadium and The Astros make decisions concerning the team’s operations.