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 They stepped up from outdated stadiums to nice, taxpayer-funded ballparks when they moved their Double-A team from Greenville, S.C., and their Triple-A team from Richmond.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.