Kinston Approves Lease for Carolina League Team

Kinston Indians New Logo 2010The Kinston (NC) city council voted Monday to approve a lease for a potential baseball team at Grainger Stadium.  The deal is expected to be with a Single-A, Carolina League team and include $1.6 million in improvements and enhancements to the facility.  Read more here.  Read background story here.


Filed under Lease & Contracts, Stadium Issues

13 responses to “Kinston Approves Lease for Carolina League Team

  1. bball35

    The CPL did try to move to Kinston but the lease only allowed for affiliated ball.

    What I don’t understand is why Columbia is not getting the Carolina league team and Kinston the low A. It doesn’t make since to me that Columbia was never mentioned about getting a Carolina league team

    • ballparkbiz


      I don’t know what you mean by “the lease only allowed for affiliated ball.” Leases are negotiated. The owner of the ballpark could decide to allow a CPL team in there and negotiate a lease accordingly.

      Regarding Columbia and Kinston, the relocation decisions were made by the owners with approval from MiLB. And, when you are owner, your team has value. The owner of the High-A team isn’t simply going to hand over their higher value to a the owner of the Low-A team and lower value just because it makes sense that Columbia should have the higher level team. Also, keep in mind the owner of the Low-A team negotiated the deal in Columbia, not the owner of the High-A team.


    • It’s possible that the Rangers (who are buying the Wilmington franchise) wanted to move them to Columbia, but were just too late to the game. Even though the Sand Gnats move to Columbia was only announced recently, it probably was in the works for a year or more. So while it makes sense that Columbia should have the High-A team, as Alan points out, owners want to protect the value of their franchises – they don’t care about what makes sense from a city population or facility standpoint.

  2. It is a bit odd that there was no quote from Carolina League President John Hopkins, nor from officials with the Texas Rangers. Doubtful the Carolina League is going to expand, and if so, it would need a partner for Kinston. Therefore, there must be a franchise that is ready to relocate as well as a major league club that will drop out of the CL in order to allow the Rangers to come in. It appears that the officials in Kinston are “outing” this move a little prematurely.

    • This is most likely related to the BMets move to Wilmington which will force the Blue Rocks to find a new home. I believe the Rangers have already purchased the Blue Rocks with the knowledge that they will be moving them. It is odd that Kinston would announce this before the BMets move has been officially announced.

    • righthook

      The Rangers current A Advanced affiliate is High Desert, which has been one of the teams mentioned previously as a possibility to move from the California League if a new stadium deal isn’t made. But just one leaving would give the Carolina League an odd number of teams so there would have to be another move..

      • It is already public knowledge that the Rangers have an agreement to buy the Blue Rocks (contingent on the Wilmington owners buying the Binghamton Mets). So this deal has nothing to do with any California League teams moving to the Carolina League.

  3. Rf9

    Assuming the new club can find another zip code they probably will

  4. ballparkbiz

    I appreciate the fact that Kinston refuses to throw in the towel on affiliated ball, but with 21.6k in population and an outdated facility, it will only be a matter of time before the franchise moves on to greener pastures. For a long-term solution, the city should have immediately moved forward with a summer collegiate Coastal Plain League franchise after the departure of the Indians.


    • eastfirst107

      Again, the difference between summer college (25-30 home games) and pro ball (70 games) is being underestimated.
      If you’re the City of Kinston and $1.6 million is all that’s sitting between you and getting pro ball back, it’s probably worth it. There’s no mention of how long a lease it’s for, but I’d imagine that they wouldn’t have moved forward with renovations without some promise that the club would stay for a few years.
      Yes, Kinston’s a small market (although the Indians had a huge swath of Eastern NC pretty much to themselves and were a relatively decent regional draw) – but the Carolina League’s geographical footprint is really, really saturated and there just aren’t many greener pastures sitting out there.
      Sure, something could pop up and some city could decide that they want to throw $30 million into a new ballpark, but there’s also a decent chance that that doesn’t happen anytime soon.

      • ballparkbiz

        We should keep in mind the lost dates, revenue and expenses by not having a team for the last five seasons.

        You know, at around 1,700 fans per game in 2011, the Indians weren’t exactly killing it at the gate. If the franchise was putting up that average today, the Indians would be the worst team in the league at nearly 800 below Lynchburg. I don’t know what the owners have up their sleeves, but I think there is something else going on here long term. Otherwise, the Binghamton-Wilmington-Kinston deal doesn’t make sense for me.


      • eastfirst107

        I’m guessing that the CPL tried to get into Kinston but insisted on a lease that prevented them from getting kicked out even if MiLB wanted back in. Otherwise, I can’t think of a reason that the CPL wouldn’t be there already.

        Anyway, could it be that the Rangers are so desperate to get out of High Desert that they’re willing to buy a Carolina League team and run it in a mediocre market – and just gamble that a better option opens up down the road?

        We’ve seen this move before – the Red Sox bought Salem so they could escape Lancaster a few years back. Granted, Salem’s a better ballpark and market, but it could be that, in the Rangers’ view, getting out of the Cal League is worth it.

        On the other hand, that’s a lot of freaking cash to fork over for the privilege of owning a team in Kinston, so you may be right that there’s something else going on that we’re not aware of.

    • righthook

      Seemed like they would have been a good fit if the Appy League decided to expand after this year. During the past offseason, that league mentioned that a couple of MLB teams were interested in new franchises.

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