The visiting team might need to get dressed and take showers off-site.
But the stands and turf field inside the 1,800-seat stadium at the new North Main Athletic Complex will be ready for the inaugural Holly Springs Salamanders baseball game on Thursday, May 28, against the Edenton Steamers, which sold out two weeks ahead of the game.
“There’s not a seat open,” said Auston Moore, director of promotions for the team.
Weather has delayed some construction on the stadium at the town’s newest attraction. For instance, the locker rooms in the bowels of the stadium might not be ready for full use by the end of the month.
That won’t stop the team and town from enjoying what’s expected to be an historic night.
Mayor Dick Sears says he’s always wanted to make Holly Springs a town where residents didn’t need to leave for anything – school, work, shopping and recreation – unless they want to. The first Salamanders game is another step toward becoming that type of town.
“I’ve gotten several emails from folks who say, ‘We are excited about having a baseball team in our town, and our kids can’t wait,’” Sears said.
The stadium and 42-acre complex, which the town expects will cost about $19 million, are expected to not only serve as a popular amenity but as an economic stimulator.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners invested $1 million in the complex in the hopes that it will host at least 22,500 visitors from outside the county within its first five years of operation. Specifically, conditions associated with the grant call for the complex to host 50 visitors from outside of a 50-mile radius at least 450 times by 2020.
“That shouldn’t be a problem for us,” Holly Springs Town Manager Chuck Simmons said.
Along with the stadium, the complex includes two turf soccer fields, which are complete, eight tennis courts, a playground and part of a greenway.
The Wake Futbol Club plans to hold tournaments at the complex four times a year, each time bringing 50 to 100 teams from across the state, according to project manager Daniel Weeks.
The town plans to hold concerts and other events at the complex. Weeks and other Holly Springs officials also expect the Salamanders, which will play 28 home games each year, to draw fans from out of town.
The Salamanders are the latest addition to the 15-team Coastal Plain League, which stretches from Petersburg, Virginia, to Columbia, South Carolina, and features collegiate players who use the 56-game summer schedule to hone their skills.
The franchise strives to balance its roster with a mixture of players from local towns and talented players from across the country. The current Salamanders roster features seven players from the Triangle – including three from Holly Springs and one from Fuquay-Varina – five North Carolinians from outside the Triangle and 10 players from out of state.
Visitors to the complex also are expected to boost business for local retail shops and restaurants, said Jenny Mizelle, the town’s economic development director. It may also spur new development along Main Street, she said.
“There are lot of development opportunities on north Main,” Mizelle said. “I think there will definitely be interest ... from maybe a hotel and restaurants.”
In the meantime, town officials are looking forward to baseball.
Sears wore a Salamanders baseball cap under his hard hat during a recent Town Council tour of the stadium.
As Holly Springs parks and recreation staff stopped the tour behind homeplate to talk about ongoing construction, Council member Jimmy Cobb stepped into the freshly painted batter’s box.
Cobb pretended to take a pitch, and council member Hank Dickson pointed out where he had purchased season tickets. Dickson was the first to buy season tickets.
The first time a player steps to the plate to pitch, Dickson will be watching from his seats along the third baseline.
Learn more about tickets and the Salamanders schedule at www.salamandersbaseball.com. All home games start at 7 p.m. Single-game and season tickets are available with discounts for children, seniors and military. Call 919-249-7322.