The Fayetteville Chutes, a collegiate summer baseball team, are rebranding and moving to Hope Mills.
Hope Mills commissioners finalized a partnership contract during their Monday board meeting, leading to the Chute’s relocation.
The team had previously requested to relocate to Hope Mills shortly after the Fayetteville Woodpeckers moved to the area in 2019. Alex Allred, CEO of the Fayetteville Chutes, told the board in October that due to a non-compete clause from the Old North State League, the largest summer collegiate league in North Carolina, the Chutes could no longer play in the same town.
“In minor league baseball and college league baseball, most teams have a non-compete with a team that could be considered competition,” Allred said. “So we could have no public support from the city of Fayetteville.”
A key part of the contract to play in Hope Mills involves upgrades to the Municipal Park baseball field. When the team first asked the board to move to Hope Mills in 2021, they asked the city to upfront some of the costs to renovate the ball field. The board rejected that motion.
When Ballred LLC — the company which owns the Chutes — came back again this year, they offered to spend $100,000 in upgrades to the park in exchange for exclusive commercial rights for home games and practices on the field.
According to a Town of Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department staff report, Ballred LLC will also have the right to revenues during the Old North State League spring training, regular season and playoff games. The company “will have the right to sell and display advertising on the property” in May, June and July, as explained in the staff report. In addition, once Ballred has regained its initial $100,000 investment, the town of Hope Mills will receive 3% of all revenues.
The commissioners narrowly passed the request during their Monday meeting. Three commissioners were in favor: Bryan Marley, Kenjuana McCray and Jerry Legge.
Marley told CityView he feels it’s a major investment in the town, which he thinks will benefit from a new baseball team and the revenue brought in by games.
“We’ve talked about it for years, trying to get investments in our community, investments in our town, and we got a company that wants to invest $100,000 in one of our ball fields and bring a ball team for Hope Mills,” Marley said. “So I believe it’s a win-win for the town.”
Commissioners Joanne Scarola and Grilley Mitchell voted against the request. Mitchell stated during Monday’s meeting that he wished the board had required the town to put out a survey to residents before taking a final vote.
In an interview with CityView, Scarola said she believes the request is a “bad idea right now” for the town.
“I looked at the contracts the Ballred had wrote for other municipalities, and they had gotten a lot more money than what they are offering us,” Scarola said. “They had offered other municipalities a quarter of a million dollars, and I just didn’t like that. It seemed like they were getting everything. They are benefitting a lot from it, and we only get to name the field.”
The baseball team hopes to start in the summer of 2024. On its Facebook page, the baseball team has asked people to submit team name suggestions. Name submissions are open until Friday. The top five suggestions will be announced on the Facebook page.
To submit a name suggestion, go to https://form.jotform.com/233095907036054.
Contact Hannah Lee at email@example.com.