By Kelsey Smith, @14Smith15
Enter the Wood Ducks and Astros, exit the Bakersfield Blaze and High Desert Mavericks.
As a result of the changes, the Class A-Advanced Carolina League expanded to 10 teams and the California League shrunk down to eight, according to milb.com.
Affiliated with the Texas Rangers, the Wood Ducks will play in Grainger Stadium in Kinston.
Down East refers to “the larger coastal plains community" from where the team hopes to draw many of its fans according to milb.com. The Wood Ducks won a ‘name the team’ contest in late 2016 over other possible suggestions such as the Eagles, HamHawks, Hogzillas and Shaggers.
Brandiose, the company who rebranded the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and Bowling Green Hot Rods took on the Down East project and released the logo for the new team in January. It features a green, orange and red duck swinging a tree branch as a bat. The duck represents the food and hunting culture of Kinston.
In an interview with baseballamerica.com, the Wood Ducks General Manager, Wade Howell, stated, “That duck out in the wild, he wants to play baseball. We have a very resourceful duck who wants to play so badly he made his own bat.”
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The Buies Creek Astros are an affiliate of the Houston Astros. Houston original courted Fayetteville, North Carolina as the host of the team, but agreed to move the team to Buies Creek for two years.
They will play on Campbell University’s field while Fayetteville moves forward on a new stadium project. According to the Fayetteville Observer, the new stadium will cost around $33 million.
Buies Creek did not bring in Brandiose or any other company to brand this new team, as the name will only live for two years.
Instead, they elected to wear the standard white Astros uniforms at home and orange while on the road. The logo is essentially the same as Houston’s, as they just replaced ‘H’ with ‘BC.’
David Lane, Buies Creek’s General Manager, said in an interview with milb.com that, “The club will hold a ‘name the team’ contest next summer once construction for the Fayetteville ballpark begins.”
The recent moves for both these teams are two of the three relocations made for this season.
The Florida Fire Frogs were the only other team that switched location after 2016.
With the recent upward trend of new stadiums generating more revenue, don't be surprised if we start seeing more and more organizations moving in the next few years.
According to Forbes, 60 new Minor League Baseball stadiums have been built since 2000. One of those stadiums, the El Paso Chihuahuas' home, was built in 2014 and is one of the reasons they were seventh in overall MiLB attendance in 2015.
Also, the Biloxi Shuckers’ attendance was up 73% from 2014 after they moved into their new stadium.
Only time will tell if Buies Creek and Down East see the same attendance numbers, but their odds are certainly great with the current trends.