BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WWAY) — Minor league baseball may be coming to North Brunswick County.
REV Entertainment and the Texas Rangers have reached out to the Town of Leland to discuss the possibility of bringing professional sports teams, baseball diamonds and entertainment venues to the area.
While this is still in its preliminary stages, members of the Rangers organization and REV Entertainment have traveled to Brunswick County to tour the area and meet with potential partners.
Following that visit, community leaders and private stakeholders from our region traveled to Arlington, Texas to visit Globe Life Field, Choctaw Stadium and the Texas Live Recreation Complex.
REV Entertainment is proposing a smaller version of the Arlington on a 1,400-plus-acre site along Highway 17 in the immediate vicinity of Brunswick Forest as part of the planned Jackeys Creek development, according to emails from the Town of Leland.
REV Entertainment and the Rangers held an information session in Leland the week before Christmas with elected leaders and staff from Leland, Brunswick County and surrounding cities.
According to a copy of the presentation for the information session, the proposed stadium will seat 4,000 people and have a little more than 1,700 parking spaces. There are more than 400 surrounding spaces available for mixed-use development.
The group is proposing a smaller version of the one they developed in Arlington, Texas. Not only does it host minor league baseball, it also hosts events and concerts. The Arlington venue has bars, restaurants and music.
The ballpark is intended to be a publicly owned facility that will be privately operated through a lease agreement, according to emails from city officials. That means, a county-wide municipal bond may be needed to fund the stadium.
If approved by Brunswick County commissioners, the bond referendum could take place on the November 2023 ballot.
REV Entertainment’s proposed timeline shows that, if the bond is approved, groundbreaking would take place in the spring of 2024, with an opening date of March 2026.
WWAY reached out to the Town of Leland, the Town Council and Brunswick County for comment. The Town of Leland provided the following statement:
“We are delighted that REV Entertainment is interested in partnering with Brunswick County and the Town of Leland on a world-class development concept with sports and entertainment as its pillars. We look forward to learning more about their interests and developing them in the coming months potential partnership.”
The baseball team will invest up to $100 million in entertainment, restaurant and hotel venues near the stadium. The community will also have an opportunity to provide input on stadium-related amenities and even help with team branding, Leland Town Manager David Hollis wrote in an email to employees.
The same email addressed the growing traffic around the stadium. Hollis said road improvements will alleviate the problem as the development builds out, which will include interconnections to existing roads in neighborhoods and business districts, additional connections to Highway 17 and Highway 133, and Other improvements needed for traffic engineering research.
Hollis also wrote that the location in the northern end of the county was preferred by the baseball team because it was separate from other similar fields and because there was an untapped and growing market in northern Brunswick County and New Hanover County.
REV Entertainment has established itself in North Carolina. The company manages Down East Wood Ducks and Hickory Crawdads in Kingston.
WWAY reached out to REV Entertainment about the proposed plans. The group provided the following statement:
“REV Entertainment is excited to partner with Brunswick County and the Town of Leland on a world-class development concept with sports and entertainment as its pillars. We are excited to make an announcement in the coming months publicly launching the partnership.”
This isn’t the first time minor league baseball has been discussed at Cape Fear. In fact, Wilmington briefly had a minor league team.
In 2001, the Los Angeles Dodgers brought a minor league team to Wilmington. The Wilmington Waves are a Lower Division A team that play their home games at Brooks Field on the UNCW campus. The franchise only lasted a year.
A decade later, another group tried to strike a deal to build a baseball stadium in downtown Wilmington. In 2012, the Atlanta Braves and the Mandalay baseball team came to Wilmington to discuss a proposal that would include a taxpayer-funded Braves MiLB stadium.
The developer then drew up a private financing plan that included an offer from the Trask Land Company to finance the project, but it never materialized. The stadium will be built along the Cape Fear River where the Live Oak Pavilion now stands.
For this latest proposal, REV Entertainment, Brunswick County and the Town of Leland plan to hold a press conference in late February or early March to share more details about the project.
This is a developing story. We will continue to provide you with the latest information.