Kinston’s Grainger Stadium Still Sits Empty

Kinston Indians New Logo 2010Ever since the Single-A Kinston Indians (Carolina League) fled Grainger Stadium for greener pastures in 2011, city officials have been working to find a replacement to anchor the ballpark.  Meanwhile, they are doing their best to keep the facility busy.  Read more and watch news report here.  With a population under 25,000, we still believe the summer collegiate Coastal Plain League is Kinston’s best bet.

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10 Comments

Filed under Conference & Events, Stadium Issues

10 responses to “Kinston’s Grainger Stadium Still Sits Empty

  1. eastfirst107

    FWIW, the population of Lenoir County, where Kinston is located, is 60,000.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong about the other items – running it professionally, having solid ownership, etc. – I just don’t think market size would be an issue for a summer college club in Kinston.

    • ballparkbiz

      Understood, but 37,000+ comes from Goldsboro 18 miles away. That doesn’t mean folks won’t travel from there, but an owner will have to pull them in, and some could even be Wilson Tobs fans. Compare this to LaCrosse or Eau Claire (WI), with immediate city “Goldilocks” populations of 50,000 (just a few minutes to the ballpark) but reach over 100,000 within the immediate surrounding areas. I should probably share all the population rings studies I have done over the years to compare populations and performance of existing franchises. I haven’t yet done one for Kinston.

      Again, this doesn’t mean Kinston can’t survive or even thrive, but less population means potentially more risk. Anyone who wants to invest this kind of money in any market should do a full risk assessment. Please know I am rooting for Kinston. It’s a shame a ballpark of Grainger’s caliber doesn’t have a team.

      Alan

      • Alan,

        Would love to see some of those population rings. As we struggle here in Binghamton fot bodies in the seats. Wonder if enough people are close enough to support.

  2. Gary

    What does a CPL franchise cost?

    • ballparkbiz

      At least $500k. Probably $1 million by now like the summer collegiate Northwoods League. Plus start-up costs.

      Alan

  3. Would you happen to know, possibly, why the CPL has not placed a team inside of the ballpark? This would be the perfect and most logical venue. It is easy for me to say, since you do have to find a potential owner, another franchise to balance the league and lease negotiations. Also, it seems as if the city is hoping that an affiliated team will once again be placed at the stadium.

    • ballparkbiz

      Jason,

      I don’t know what is going on in Kinston, but I imagine there is some belief that they will secure another affiliated club. If so, they need to put their pride and egos aside and realize that they are no longer, and will very like never be again, an affiliated market. Grainger is out of date compared to today’s modern ballparks, and the market is simply too small. And quite frankly, I would personally be a little nervous about placing a minor league-like summer collegiate franchise in Kinston because of it’s small size. That said, city leaders ought to turn there focus on securing one. Most fans aren’t going to know the difference anyway, if you have a good operator who runs the team professionally like a minor league club.

      The franchise fee for the CPL isn’t chump change, so there may be an issue with finding a potential owner with deep enough pockets who is willing to take the risk. In the end, I can’t imagine a CPL team won’t end up there. Even if a miracle occurs and Kinston secures an affiliated club, don’t expect it to stay that way for the long term.

      Alan

      • eastfirst107

        Alan,

        Why would you “be a little nervous about placing a minor league-like summer collegiate franchise in Kinston because of [its] small size?”

        Kinston’s about the same size or larger than as Martinsville, Asheboro, Morehead City, Forest City, Edenton, etc., all of which have at the very least survived, if not thrived, in the CPL. Kinston’s facility is much better than all of those clubs’ parks, as well.

        Also, the Carolina League club stayed in Kinston as long as it did because they always drew well throughout the region (Jacksonville, New Bern, Greenville, etc).

      • ballparkbiz

        For me personally as an investor, I would want a captured market (not much to do without driving 30 miles) and around 50,000 — the Goldilocks market (not too small, not too big) — with a workable facility. That doesn’t mean Kinston wouldn’t do well. It’s just more risk than I would want to take based on the investment required.

        For someone wth deeper pockets, or a local investor who knows the market well, it might not be a worry. Kinston is certainly a captured market, the facility is perfect, and North Carolina is sort of a different animal in the baseball world. In the end, tough, it comes down to the operator. Run it like an amateur, and that’s how it will be perceived. Run it like a professional, and that’s how it will be perceived. This will be partcularly important in Kinston, where an owner will not only have to capture the interest of a larger percentage of the population than in a 50,000 market, but will have to overcome local naysayers who truly believe they are an affiliated market.

        Alan

      • Alan

        Thanks for the prompt reply; but you are probably right about the town’s ego. Look at the wonderful small ballpakrs dotted across the country who no longer host minor league baseball, many of them are thriving with college wood bat league during the summer. Wilson was vacant for 25-years before the Tobs came back in 1997 and now the ballpark is finishing up renovations. The same in Wausau, Madison, Gastonia and Hanibal. Let’s hope that cooler head prevail.

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