SEE ALSO: Houston Astros Archive
At last month’s press conference announcing that the Astros’ high Class A team would play for the next two seasons at Campbell, Astros president Reid Ryan said that club was “in the ninth inning” when it came to securing a site in Fayetteville for a permanent stadium.
On Tuesday, the Astros closed out the win.
Ryan, Carolina League president John Hopkins, Fayetteville mayor Nat Robertson and a host of other big hitters were on hand at Fayetteville city hall for the official signing of a 30-year lease to keep the club in the city. Hardball Capital, which was behind the construction and development of Spirit Communications Park, in Columbia, S.C., will oversee the work on the new stadium, which will be ready for baseball in time for the team to move in before the 2019 season.
“Thanks to the Houston Astros and the hard work of city council and staff, big things are about to happen for Fayetteville,” Robertson said in a statement. “I’m very proud to lead this renaissance that will bring about a quarter million people to our downtown for approximately 70 games a year, in addition to all of the new events and the new splash pad that will be housed in the stadium. The new stadium will serve as an economic development catalyst for the downtown area and Fayetteville as a whole.”
The team, known until 2019 as the Buies Creek Astros, are one half of the result of realignment between the Carolina and California Leagues. High Desert (Rangers) and Bakersfield (Mariners) were shuttered after this season and replaced in the Carolina League with Buies Creek and Down East, which will affiliate with the Rangers and play its games at Kinston, N.C.’s Grainger Stadium. The Mariners filled their high Class A void by purchasing a majority stake with the California League’s Modesto franchise.
“The Astros are excited to be affiliated with the city of Fayetteville. It’s a city with rich history, friendly people and a background in baseball,” Ryan said. “This agreement will be part of a dynamic revitalization of downtown Fayetteville, which will bring great crowds and a major league environment for our players to develop. Player development is a huge part of the Astros’ success and Fayetteville will be a home for the club’s top prospects as they make their way to the major leagues.”
As part of the deal between the Astros and Campbell, the Astros will pay for the installation of an artificial turf surface at Campbell’s Jim Perry Stadium. Opening day for the Buies Creek Astros is April 6 at home against Winston-Salem.