Holly Springs will have baseball franchise

akenney@newsobserver.comJune 23, 2013 

  • Soccer also coming to facility

    Baseball isn’t the only sport headed for the planned athletic complex. The town has signed a deal with Wake Futbol Club, a year-old soccer league that has about 400 members and nearly 40 teams.

    The club, which serves players ages 7 to 16, will use the soccer fields between August and May. While the league currently is spread out across Western Wake County, the new “facility will sort of be our epicenter,” said David Allred, executive director of Wake F.C., though the program will continue to practice at multiple fields.

    WFC will pay $84,000 a year for use of the fields, which are meant for organized recreational use rather than pick-up games, according to town staff. The league will have access 5 to 9 p.m. weeknights and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

— A baseball franchise is set to call Holly Springs home. Under a ready-to-ink deal, a collegiate summer league team would play out of the town’s proposed multi-million dollar baseball stadium.

For more than a year, draft plans for an 1,800-seat facility have bounced around town hall. Now the project’s nearly sure to happen; the Holly Springs Town Council gave its unanimous approval on Tuesday for the overall stadium plan and the baseball contract.

All of this took shape early in 2012, when the Coastal Plain League, which operates in the Carolinas and Virginia, proposed a franchise for Holly Springs. That pitch quickly gained momentum, becoming the $5-million athletic stadium proposed today.

“If we didn’t have the Coastal Plain League and their investment into the project, we would not be dreaming of a stadium,” said Len Bradley, director of parks and recreation for Holly Springs. “It’d be nowhere in our plans.”

The multi-sport stadium off North Main Street could be ready for use by summer of 2015, and the Coastal Plain League franchise would take up residence immediately. The North Main Athletic Complex, to be located near Anchor Creek Way, also will host soccer fields, tennis courts, a cut-through access road and, possibly, a smaller special-needs field, at a cost of about $10 million.

The project is a step in a new direction for the town: It will be the first facility meant more for watching than participating, and the star of the show will be the new team. Coastal Plain League teams host rosters of unpaid college players for summer seasons, creating a “professional minor-league” feel, according to its website. The league, which fielded 14 teams in its 17th season this year, has headquarters in Holly Springs.

“This is going to be your community’s gathering place, and that’s what the Coastal Plain League brings to Holly Springs,” said Matt DeMargel, an employee of 919 Marketing, speaking on behalf of the league.

Several other municipalities have built multi-million dollar stadiums, hoping for a boost to town culture and an influx of spending at businesses. Cary has the Carolina RailHawks soccer team, while Durham has the Bulls.

The league has estimated it will bring almost $1 million of spending to vendors each year while attracting a sum audience of 100,000 people. The team would play about 40 home games per year.

For the use of the stadium, the as-yet-unnamed team would pay $850,000 over a decade. The two parties have agreed that the team will pay for game staff, such as ushers, and post-event clean-up, while the town will pay for electric, water and sewer services.

Kenney: 919-460-2608 or twitter.com/KenneyOnCary

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