A look at the Carolina League’s two new parks

Perhaps you hadn’t noticed, but an interesting change was made within the structure of Minor League Baseball’s High-A level during the past off-season. Two California League franchises with woeful facilities were “contracted.” At the same time, the Carolina League was expanded, as two teams were added less than 80 miles apart.

The new teams are the Buies Creek Astros and the Down East Wood Ducks, both in North Carolina. We attended home games for the two clubs recently, and the result is articles on each team’s ballpark. Of course, we provide background on how the teams came to be and how that impacted the parks.

These aren’t the in-depth reviews that newly constructed parks receive on this site, but we think you’ll enjoy reading our thoughts on what it’s like to attend games at the two newest entrants in the Carolina League — one in a park that’s new to the league and the other in a facility that spent decades in the circuit.

First is a look at Jim Perry Stadium, the park being borrowed from Campbell University by the Buies Creek Astros. Then check out our assessment of Grainger Stadium in Kinston, NC.

Two very different parks with very different approaches to the gameday experience … but both are extremely enjoyable!

Elmore announces three-team shake-up

Article and photos by Joe Mock, BaseballParks.com
All rights reserved

Amarillo is the winner. Helena is the loser — although folks in Colorado Springs and Wichita might not be feeling very happy right now, either.

In a move that changes the caliber of baseball that will be played in four cities, the Elmore Sports Group announced that three teams they own will be moving following the 2018 season. In a series of moves that has been rumored for months, the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox of the Pacific Coast League will move to San Antonio, while the Alamo City’s Double-A Texas League team currently called the Missions will move north to Amarillo. The short-season rookie-level team currently in Helena, Montana will transfer to Colorado Springs. The Helena Brewers are in the Pioneer League.

This will leave Helena’s Kindrick Field (see adjacent photo) — arguably the worst of the Pioneer League’s eight facilities — without affiliated baseball in 2019. Except for 2001 and 2002, the Pioneer League has fielded a team there every season since 1978. It’s likely an independent-league or college-wood-bat team could fill the void at Kindrick once the Brewers move to Colorado Springs.

When the Texas League moves to Amarillo in 2019, the team hopes to be in a new ballpark planned for the city’s downtown. The City has undergone quite a bit of squabbling about the funding for the new stadium (including a non-binding referendum at the ballot box), but with a pledge from Elmore to make it happen, the former San Antonio Missions will likely celebrate opening day in 2019 in a brand-new stadium.

A press conference announcing the news was held at the new $42-million headquarters of Xcel Energy in Amarillo. The nine-acre site for the ballpark is directly across the street. Read More

A look at the new park in Cleburne, Texas

There are four new ballparks in pro baseball this year. We’ve already looked at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, SunTrust Park and Dunkin’ Donuts Park. The last of the four to open is The Depot at Cleburne Station, home of the Cleburne Railroaders of the independent American Association.

Check out our thoughts on the facility, which was designed by sports-architecture heavyweights Populous. Our article can be found here.