Braves closer to moving Class-A affiliate to N.C.

The Braves hope to move their high Class-A Lynchburg affiliate to Wilmington, N.C., for the 2015 season, and moved closer to that goal by reaching a tentative agreement this week with Mandalay Baseball Properties and the city of Wilmington, N.C., to build a taxpayer-funded baseball stadium on the city’s riverfront.

The Wilmington City Council is expected to approve the plan on Tuesday, which would leave one major hurdle to clear – a Nov. 6 bond referendum. The tentative agreement calls for the Braves to sign a 20-year-lease to play in the proposed ballpark.

“Moving our high-A minor league team affiliation to Wilmington, North Carolina would be a huge benefit to the players and development staff in our organization,” said Mike Plant, Braves executive vice president of business operations, in an email. “That’s Braves Country and it is a wonderful community where we already have a tremendous fan base. These are a few of the reasons we have made an unprecedented commitment to play there for decades.”

The Braves and Mandalay, which would co-own the team, agreed in February to enter a six-month negotiating period with Wilmington officials, and the Braves hoped their 20-year lease offer would help sway opinion in Wilmington, where skeptics have pointed to the brief stints by other minor league teams that left Wilmington for better facilities or deals elsewhere.

At that time, Plant pointed out that those previous teams played in a modest college stadium in Wilmington, while the Braves and Wilmington officials envisioned a state-of-the-art new ballpark.

The Braves play in upscale, recently built ballparks in all of their other full-season affiliates at low-A Rome, Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett. They stepped up from outdated stadiums to nice, taxpayer-funded ballparks when they moved their Double-A team from Greenville, S.C., and their Triple-A team from Richmond.

Wilmington would be the last piece in the Braves’ aim of having top-tier facilities throughout their minor league system.

Chipper’s bar, Pt. II

A pub in New York renamed itself Chipper’s last week in tribute to Chipper Jones, and now so will an Atlanta watering hole.

Peachtree Tavern, coincidentally celebrating its 10th anniversary, will pay tribute to the Braves’ No. 10, retiring third baseman Jones, by renaming itself Chipper’s Bar and Music Hall from Sept. 24 through Sept. 29 during the last homestand of the season and the last of Jones’ playing career.

The tavern will sell T-shirts and other souvenirs adorned with its special “Chipper’s” logo, with all proceeds going to the Chipper Jones Family Foundation. Jones will sign many items for a raffle.

When the Braves played the Mets last week, Foley’s, a baseball-themed Irish bar in Manhattan, was renamed “Chipper’s” for the weekend to honor Jones during his last scheduled series in New York.

20 comments Add your comment

bruce

September 14th, 2012
7:25 pm

so will the debt be paid off in 20 years? Richmond built a new stadium once and not sure how long the braves stayed…

Dedoh

September 14th, 2012
10:03 pm

They should name the bar “The 10 Spot” or “The Hot Corner”.

Quicherbichin

September 14th, 2012
10:38 pm

The Braves were in Richmond until they moved to Gwinnett… not sure when the ballpark was built though.

Greg

September 14th, 2012
11:17 pm

I live in Richmond and we still have the same dump(known as “The Diamond”) we’ve had for decades. The Braves gave Richmond every opportunity to get a deal for a new park done, but Richmond city officials just spun their wheels until Braves officials took their ball and went home.

Ken Stallings

September 14th, 2012
11:21 pm

Nice move for Wilmington. North Carolina is a baseball hot bed and Atlanta itself has long enjoyed a tremendous market advantage by MLB failing to locate a big league club in North Carolina itself.

Now with Washington so close to the eastern part of the state and Atlanta so close to the western half, odds are it will never happen.

Tommy

September 15th, 2012
4:55 am

Sad…we give the Braves great support in Lynchburg and they want to take us out of the Carolina League. Really killed the buzz after a Mills Cup championship. Hoping Wilmington votes against the measure.

MikeY

September 15th, 2012
6:19 am

I live in the Wilmington NC area, and teh bond referendum is still a big step. Based upon surveys/voter sentiment, it seems to be less than a 50-50 chance.

And to describe this area as “Braves Country” is unfortunately not true. Yes, there are lots of Braves fans here (like me). BUT, unfortunately we are in the Nats/Orioles TV region, which means that when the Braves are on Fox Sports South, the game is pre-empted. And, when the Braves play the Nats or Orioles, my mlb.tv subscription game is blacked out. So most local Braves fans can only see a few (Fox, TBS, or mlb network, if their cable provider carries it (mine does not)) Braves games on TV a year.

I HOPE the bond vote passes and Wilmington gert a team.

Flying Squirrel

September 15th, 2012
7:38 am

Unlike Greg, as a fan who finds the 1984 ‘Diamond’ just fine as a baseball venue, I’m pleased with the arrival of the Eastern League San Francisco Giants affiliate.

I have been inside the facility and it infamous locker-room. and despite protestations to the contrary, find it’s not posh or pretentous, but acceptable to my eye. I suppose the plan back in the 80’s when tax-payers had money for such projects, the idea was to scrimp on the player comforts in order get the facility up and running with the least expense to the community.

Today the idea seems twisted around to be certain the club and players are pleased, and if fans are happy too well that’s great. When public funds are involved, the expenditure should be for the benefit of the fans, not organized baseball.

Just having an organization dane to consider a community ‘worthy’ of a ball-team is no longer enough to warrent such expenditures. If a facility should conform to the needs of the organization and players first, then they should front the money for the construction, and have public funds used strictly to entertain and attract a fan-base.

Besides, the Braves were snookered out of a fine Class A facility in Myrtle Beach by the Rangers. If that had not happened, the Braves would not even be thinking of Wilmington or a 20 year lease. They don’t want the same thing happening again as they’re try to settle in just up the coast.

And the Braves are saddled with a terrible t.v. contract limiting local access to televised games. This does not bode well for the building of a fan-base, and the ultimate success of a franchise in Wilmington. It will be decades before the Braves are out from under that albatross, short of a sale of the team and a buyout of the contract by a new owner.

Poor management on the part of the Braves ownership has whittled a once magnificant national brand-name to a regional one struggling to maintain itself. Wilmington should consider the cost of affiliation before this bond referendum is consumated.

Paddy

September 15th, 2012
7:41 am

Greg………the city of Richmond could never correct the poor drainage problem at the Diamond. It is no doubt that they could not get their act together to save the franchise! Very poor sports city, IMHO

bring back blauser

September 15th, 2012
7:54 am

I never went to any games at The Diamond in Richmond, but I enjoyed watching such players as Dusty Baker, Bobby Grich, Carlton Fisk,Ralph Garr, and Darrel Evans play at Parker Field there in Richmond

Ken

September 15th, 2012
8:12 am

Tommy @ 4:55: You couldn’t have said it better.

len6115

September 15th, 2012
8:14 am

Wilmington would be great for me since I have a house in Emerald Isle. Been a huge Braves fan since the Senators left me twice as I grew up in MD. Now, living in Raleigh, I have to yield to MASN and the Nats. 20 miles outside Raleigh is claimed by the Braves. Crazy!

Flying Squirrel

September 15th, 2012
9:30 am

len6115:

I feel your pain as I too will never be a NATS fan.

So how far was that from Raleigh again in order to see Peachtree t.v. and the Braves?

You know len when I was in eastern maritime Canada in 2010, peachtree t.v. was on all cable stations throughout the region. Maybe we’re looking in the wrong direction.

Flying Squirrel

September 15th, 2012
9:33 am

Paddy:

That particular problem with the ‘Diamond’s field you reference was solved. Now it’s the perimeter parking lot that floods.

bruce

September 15th, 2012
12:17 pm

Diamond in Richmond was opened in 1985 after being built during the off-season
http://www.ballparkreviews.com/template2.php?in_name=The%20Diamond&in_city=Richmond&in_state=Virginia

Nutmeg

September 15th, 2012
1:26 pm

There’s a really important piece of information missing from this column:

Where are they playing *now*?

Seriously, an entire column is written about a proposed move, and the blogger doesn’t bother to mention the place that’s being abandoned?

Nutmeg

September 15th, 2012
1:28 pm

Okay, I see now that it’s in the first line, but I read the story three times before finally finding it–and then only because a *commenter* had mentioned it was Lynchburg. Sheesh.

MikeY

September 15th, 2012
3:29 pm

Oh, and one other thing: my local cable provider does not show MASN. Nor does it support the mlb network (neither are available on charter cable here). So baseball on TV is very limited, just Fox and TBS national games. Thanksfully I buy the mlb.tv package.

So the notion that I am blacked out from watching the Braves play the Nats or Orioles, assuming that I will watch those games on MASN, is just blatantly untrue. The arcane mlb blsckout rules are about as anti-fan as I can imagine.

ATLcracker

September 15th, 2012
5:42 pm

It’s a shame they didn’t move back to Luther Williams Field in Macon. It is a historic stadium that was used in two recent baseball movies. Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams in Trouble With The Curve and Harrison Ford in 42 The Jackie Robinson Story. Seeing the old park filled with (fake) fans again sure made me nostalgic for the old days when we watched Chipper and Andruuw come through.

icons library

October 9th, 2012
11:39 pm

Add your comment