Grainger Stadium in Kinston, NC will once again host pro baseball in 2017. The Texas Rangers announced that they have purchased controlling interest in a Carolina League franchise that will begin play in Kinston in 2017. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram‘s story is here.
Grainger Stadium is no stranger to pro baseball, as it hosted a Carolina League franchise from 1986 through 2011. In 2012, the franchise moved to the stadium in Zebulon, NC, which had lost its double-A tenant when it moved to Pensacola, FL.
The move to Kinston is part of a two-step process, where the high-A California League will shrink from ten teams to eight and the Carolina League, also high-A, will increase by two teams, to a total of ten. The two franchises to be contracted from the Cal League are the Bakersfield Blaze and the High Desert Mavericks, who play in Adelanto, CA.
The park in Bakersfield in particular has been substandard for years. Sam Lynn Ballpark is routinely rated at the bottom of the Cal League, and has often been referred to as the worst in affiliated Minor League Baseball. The city’s failure to provide its baseball team with a facility as nice as its minor-league hockey franchise has certainly led to the loss of the Blaze. This is truly a shame, not only because the city is a charter member of the Cal League, but also because the market would support pro baseball in an adequate facility. Read More
Turner Field, hosting its final season of Braves baseball, will be sold to Georgia State University for $30 million. The Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority, with buy-off from the Atlanta City Council, announced the deal on August 18. Here’s the story in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
The baseball stadium itself will be converted into a football stadium for Georgia State’s gridiron program. The University’s baseball program will also receive a new home, as a ballpark will be constructed near the site of the Braves’ former venue, Atlanta Fulton Country Stadium, which is part of the 67-acre site.
The University also plans to build student housing and commercial space on the property.
Not only will we be covering the final weekend of Braves games at Turner Field at the end of the season, we will also give you a preview of the Braves’ new stadium, currently under construction in Cobb County, north of Atlanta.
This is the 17th straight year that we’ve named a Ballpark of the Year, but it’s most definitely the first time the award has gone to a park where only one game was played.
Used for only one game, Fort Bragg Field is the 2016 BaseballParks.com Ballpark of the Year. It was announced in an article in USA TODAY Sports Weekly (see photo). Pick up a copy on a newsstand near you to see our article on the three finalists: Jimmy John’s Field in Utica, Michigan; Spirit Communications Park in Columbia, South Carolina and the winner, Fort Bragg Field in North Carolina.
You can also read all about the award — with reaction from MLB headquarters, the architect, the man behind the playing field itself and even the commanding general at Fort Bragg — in our press release.
Here’s what the plaque looks like. Copies of this will go to Fort Bragg, Populous and MLB headquarters:
Feel free to add your comments about the park and/or the award below.