MiLB announces addition of Kinston minor league team for 2017 season, Fayetteville a target

Kinston will once again be home to a Single-A baseball team as part of the Texas Rangers organization.

Eamon Queeney—North State Journal
Fans in the outfield watch during the Major League Baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the Miami Marlins at Fort Bragg in North Carolina

KINSTON, N.C. — Baseball is officially coming back to Kinston.Beginning in 2017, Grainger Stadium will once again host baseball games as a member of the Texas Rangers’ organization, the MiLB announced Monday afternoon. The move comes on the heels of an announcement that the Bakersfield Blaze and High Desert Mavericks will cease operations at the completion of the 2016 season.Along with the revelation that baseball will return to Kinston, MiLB President and CEO also noted Fayetteville is a destination for a minor league team as well.”This step was taken with the best interests of Minor League Baseball, both leagues and our Major League Baseball partners in mind,” said O’Conner. “… We are happy that professional baseball will return to Kinston and we are pleased with the steps Fayetteville has taken to bring professional baseball back to that great city as well.”Kinston has a 12-year contract with the Rangers to keep baseball in the city and at historic Grainger Stadium. After having a Carolina League team in 1956—1957, 1962—1974 and 1978—2011, the move brings back a franchise that can help bolster the community after a six-year absence.”This is finally a deal we can all get behind and say- Yes. This is what we want,” Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy said earlier this summer. “Minor League Baseball wins, hopefully, Major League Baseball wins, the City of Kinston wins, and more importantly the fans win, and this is what it is all about.”
Short version of expected HiA changes: #Rangers to Kinston, N.C., #Astros to Fayetteville, N.C., #Mariners to Modesto, #Rockies to Lancaster— Kyle Glaser (@KyleAGlaser) August 22, 2016
Grainger Stadium underwent new turf installation earlier this month to upgrade the field. However, there is somewhat of a termination clause based on performance for the team. The Rangers expect at least 100,000 fans in attendance for two straight years, so support will be needed from the Kinston fanbase.As for Fayetteville, the plans for a potential team are still being discussed. With a memorandum of understanding already signed by both sides and a venue scheduled for completion prior to opening day of the 2019 MiLB season, it appears there might be two new franchises coming to NC in the coming years.