The city council of the city of Fayetteville has unanimously agreed on a memorandum of understanding with the Houston Astros, continuing the city’s and the MLB team’s discussion about a new ballpark to support an Advanced A Carolina League team and outlining a basic framework as they move towards a more permanent agreement.
In the agreement is written that the stadium will be ready by 2019 and that the lease term will be 30 years. The Astros will pay the City of Fayetteville yearly rent for the stadium beginning in the amount of $250,000 which will increase after every fifth year for a total sum of more than $9 million.
The agreement will guarantee Fayetteville an MiLB team for the duration of forty years and the city will get half of the amount that the naming rights of the stadium will bring in.
According to the city council, this ballpark is more than just a ballpark. It will serve as a catalyst for further economic development of downtown Fayetteville. Fayetteville is looking to other cities where this has happened too. For example Montgomery AL. Riverwalk Stadium was part of a big uplift for the run down downtown area.
The MOU has no effect unless and until both Fayetteville and the Astros both agree and fully execute the definitive agreement. In other words, this MOU is not binding.
The definitive agreement, if signed, will occur in a 45- to 60-day window following the signing of the MOU.
The stadium will be a multi-purpose venue which will host outdoor concerts and sporting events other than minor league baseball games.
Now both parties are getting a step closer to a ballpark in Fayetteville, the question remains which California League team will move to the North Carolina city.
Now the Texas Rangers will likely head to Kinston, it may be pretty sure that their current affiliate, the High Desert Mavericks, will end up there.
The Astros have ties with the Lancaster JetHawks, one of the better drawing teams of the California League. As written before, it may be very unlikely that this team will be moved. But with the stadium owned by the team owners, you’ll never know.
It is more likely that the Bakersfield Blaze will be acquired by the Astros and moved to North Carolina. Their ballpark, historic Sam Lynn Ballpark, doesn meet today’s standards. The Blaze’s owners have been looking for other locations in the past five years, but no city could provide a financial watertight plan.
Even if the Astros acquire the JetHawks and move them to the East Coast, you can count on it that the Bakersfield Blaze will move to Lancaster to fill the void. The stadium of the JetHawks is only 20 years old, so much younger than Sam Lynn Ballpark which opened its doors in 1941.
As nothing is engraved in stone yet, fans of certain California League teams will start to scratch their heads about what will happen to their team.