This town may soon be home to the Hedgehogs. Or the Hawks. Or some other animal or force of nature that represents Holly Springs.
The Coastal Plain League on Friday wrapped up its 10-day contest to submit nickname suggestions for the baseball team it plans to launch in Holly Springs next year.
“We are looking for something that speaks for Holly Springs ... maybe something that’s indigenous to the area,” said Pete Bock, president of the league. “Something you can utilize in your colors and uniform.”
The Asheboro Copperheads, Edenton Steamers and Wilson Tobs are among the other 14 teams in the league, which stretches from central Virginia to Columbia, S.C.
The league plans to pick a nickname, choose a color scheme and reveal a logo for the Holly Springs team by the end of September.
“We want to be out on the streets selling tickets by October 1st,” Bock said.
The Coastal Plain League started in 1937 and dissolved in 1952. Bock, a longtime minor league executive, resurrected it in 1996.
Its teams feature rosters of unpaid college players who use the 56-game schedule from late May to mid-August to hone their skills for collegiate play.
More than 65 Coastal Plain League players have made it to the majors, including 25 in the last three years, according to the league’s website.
The league touts Justin Verlander, who played for the Wilson Tobs in 2002, as its top alum. The Detroit Tigers ace was named MVP and won the Cy Young Award as top pitcher of the American League in 2011.
The league agreed to expand to Holly Springs last year after the town cemented plans to build the North Main Athletic Complex, a 1,800-seat multisport stadium with turf that will also host concerts and amateur sports.
The franchise will thrive, Bock said, because Holly Springs continues to see rapid population growth.
The town has grown by 5,000 people since the Coastal Plain League moved its headquarters to Holly Springs from Raleigh in 2009.
“We have had our CPL office in Holly Springs and have gotten to recognize the future growth of the entire South Western area of Wake County,” Bock said in an email.
The town of 29,000 is expected to add another 8,000 people by 2019.
The facility is partially being paid for by bonds approved by voters in 2011 and partnerships with local athletic organizations.
Holly Springs recently sought $2.8 million in county funding for several features of the stadium project, including a road connection to the N.C. 55 Bypass, a concessions building that would be used as a beer garden and a large scoreboard video screen.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners declined to award Holly Springs money for the project last month.
The town is now pursuing several options – including sponsorships – to pay for the extra features.
“It’s going to be extremely popular,” Mayor Dick Sears said of the team and stadium. “I expect big things from this. I think you’ll see the quality of the players being pretty darn close to the (Carolina) Mudcats.”