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Plans announced for pro baseball stadium in downtown Spartanburg

Ross Norton //May 23, 2023//

Plans announced for pro baseball stadium in downtown Spartanburg

Ross Norton //May 23, 2023//

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A consortium of public and private sector partners today announced that a new baseball stadium is planned for construction in downtown Spartanburg and would be the future home of a Minor League Baseball affiliate of the Texas Rangers, currently playing as the Down East Wood Ducks in Kinston, N.C.

This project results from a partnership between the city of SpartanburgSpartanburg County, the state of South CarolinaOneSpartanburg Inc.The Johnson Group and Diamond Baseball Holdings, an organization that owns and operates select minor league clubs affiliated with Major League Baseball, and which recently announced the acquisition of the Down East Wood Ducks, according to a news release from the group.

The announcement did not state what needs to happen to bring the multi-phased plans to fruition, such as approvals from Major League Baseball or anything regarding permitting and construction processes.

The proposed stadium, developed by The Johnson Group, would be owned by the city of Spartanburg, the news release said. Diamond Baseball Holdings is the club’s new majority owner and would lease the stadium from the city. Robins & Morton of Charlotte would serve as the general contractor for construction of the stadium.

The team could begin playing in Spartanburg as soon as the 2025 Minor League Baseball season, the release said.

“This is a great day for Spartanburg. My colleagues on City Council and I are excited to work with The Johnson Group and Diamond Baseball Holdings to bring this transformative vision to fruition,” Mayor Jerome Rice said in the release. “It will be terrific to bring affiliated professional baseball back to Spartanburg. Additional affordable family entertainment coupled with needed white collar office space and other world class amenities will ensure downtown Spartanburg is an increasingly impactful economic engine for this region. That benefits all residents of our city and county.”

With 3,500 fixed seats and a 5,000-plus-square-foot Club Room, the new stadium would also serve as a year-round venue for public and private events.

The state has five Minor Leage Baseball teams, including the Greenville Drive which has played a significant role in the development of Greenville's West End.

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“Leveraging key acreage to transform the city’s western gateway, this multi-faceted project aligns perfectly with the 2017- 2026 OneSpartanburg Vision Plan,” One Spartanburg Inc. President and CEO Allen Smith said in the release. “Strategic programming within a state-of-the-art entertainment amenity, more multi-family housing, and Class A office product not only build a next level Downtown Spartanburg but also help recruit knowledge-based jobs and top tier talent. This project affirms the notion that economic opportunity abounds when local and state governments work in tandem with the private sector. Clearly, there is no better time than now to live, visit, or invest in Spartanburg.” 

In addition to the stadium, the 16-acre mixed-use site in downtown Spartanburg would include multifamily housing units, office space, and entertainment options as part of a $250M-plus development project.

“As Spartanburg County continues to grow, it is very exciting to see investments such as this being made in our community,” Spartanburg County Council Chairman Manning Lynch said in the news release. “The new stadium will deliver an economic boost to downtown Spartanburg and the surrounding areas, and create a hub of family friendly entertainment in our home county. I am excited and proud to watch this much anticipated project come to life.”

S.C. House Speaker Murrell Smith said the proposal is an example of what collaboration can accomplish.

“Spartanburg will greatly benefit from the funding our state has allocated for this exciting economic development project,” he said in the release. “The construction of a new minor league baseball stadium in their downtown area is a wonderful example of the private and public sectors working collaboratively to create a meaningful impact within a community.” 

For the Spartanburg-based developer, it’s another chance to spur economic development at its front door.

“We are thrilled to work with DBH to bring Minor League Baseball back to Spartanburg as part of a major downtown development project to propel economic growth in our hometown community,” Geordy Johnson, CEO of The Johnson Group, said in the release. “This collective effort will have a transformative impact on Spartanburg — supporting our city’s current growth, drawing families into the heart of downtown, continuing our rich history of professional baseball, and serving as a hub for entertainment and broader economic activity throughout our area for years to come.”

The president of business operations for the Texas Rangers said the club will explore more options for the city it’s leaving behind.

“The Texas Rangers look forward to working with DBH and The Johnson Group as they move forward on the stadium project in Spartanburg,” Neil Leibman said in the release. “We are excited about having our minor league affiliate in a tremendous new facility in the next couple of years. At the same time, we want to thank the city of Kinston for their tremendous support and assistance of the Wood Ducks franchise since 2017. It has been a great partner during this run, and we will be working with DBH to explore options to keep baseball being played at Grainger Stadium in the future.”

Pat Battle and Peter Freund, executive chairman and CEO, respectively, of Diamond Baseball Holdings, in a joint statement said: “The new stadium is an exciting next step for Minor League Baseball and for the future of Spartanburg. We are grateful to The Johnson Group and the city of Spartanburg for partnering in this endeavor with us, and for our strong continuing relationship with the Texas Rangers and MLB. DBH also thanks the Kinston community for its support of the Wood Ducks.”