HOLLY SPRINGS — 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 towns 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 projects 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 didnt 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. Itd 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 communitys gathering place, and thats 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