The Indians baseball team will be leaving Kinston after the 2011 baseball season and moving to Zebulon. It's a move that shocked many fans. Now officials are trying to do everything they can to get another team in by 2012, to avoid a hard economic hit.
According to Kinston Mayor BJ Murphy, the city would lose about 30,000 dollars in revenue a year. That number doesn't include the local businesses such ashotels and restaurants that gain business when people come to the area for games. But Murphy says they still have an entire year to try and find another team.
This will be the 25th year the Indians will be at Grainger Stadium. Murphy says officials are actively working to find a replacement.
The Kinston Indians minor league baseball team will be moving to Zebulon after the 2011 season. The team has been sold to Carolina Mudcats owner Steve Bryant. The Mudcats are reportedly moving to Florida.
Currently, there is no team to call Grainger Stadium home after the 2011 season. However, officials hope that will change.
Cam McRae, a general partner of the Indians ownership group, said in a press release, "I'm an optimist, and I'm hopeful that baseball will be played in Grainger Stadium in 2012."
Kinston Mayor BJ Murphy tells WITN, Kinston is working to bring another team to the city. Murphy says it will help that the city has almost a year to make that happen. Kinston City Manager Scott Stevens says, "Baseball is a part of what makes Kinston a great place to live. We'll do everything we can to keep baseball being played in Grainger Stadium." A press release says the City of Kinston owns the 61-year-old park.
"We've improved the stadium, put money in it, and we've had a solid Player Development Contract with the Cleveland Indians," McRae said. "We've put great players on the field and won three Carolina League championships. We did not have a for-sale sign on this franchise, but this transaction is a good opportunity for the Carolina League team to field a team in a bigger market and a modern ball park. Grainger Stadium is also a quality venue."
The new general manager of the Kinston Indians, Benjamin Jones, says support for the K-Tribe will be more important than ever in 2011. "Our organization is going to extra lengths to offer a memorable fan experience at the ball park," Jones said. "The more fan support we have this coming year, the better our prospects will be to attract a franchise for 2012."
The Indians franchise will play 70 regular-season games in Kinston in 2011. "The staff is in place and ready for a great season of baseball," said Chris Hemeyer, who will begin his sixth season as the Indians' play-by-play announcer. "We're looking forward to a memorable 25th summer of Kinston Indians baseball."
The move to Zebulon is subject to approval from Minor League Baseball and review of Major League Baseball.
Grainger Stadium in Kinston opened in 1949 and is the second oldest ballpark in the Carolina League. It seats 4,100.
The Indians have been in Kinston for more than two decades.
To read the full press release from the Kinston Indians on their move, click the link below.