BREAKING NEWS: Texas Rangers exploring Leland site for minor league baseball, large entertainment venue

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Baseball (Photo: Christine Beshay / MGN)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Minor League Baseball could be coming to Northern Brunswick County.

REV Entertainment and the Texas Rangers have reached out to the Town of Leland about the possibility of bringing a professional sports team, ballpark, and entertainment venue to the area.

While this is still preliminary, members of the Rangers organization and REV Entertainment have already traveled to Brunswick County to tour the area and meet with potential partners.

Following that visit, community leaders and private stakeholders from our area traveled to Arlington, Texas to visit Globe Life Field, Choctaw Stadium, and the Texas Live entertainment complex.

According to Town of Leland emails WWAY requested earlier this week, REV Entertainment is proposing a smaller version of Arlington be constructed on a 1,400+ acre piece of property along Highway 17 next to Brunswick Forest, which is part of the planned Jackeys Creek development.

REV Entertainment and the Rangers were in Leland the week before Christmas to hold information sessions with elected leaders and staff from Leland, Brunswick County and surrounding municipalities.

According to a PowerPoint presentation from the information session, the proposed stadium’s capacity is 4,000 with a little more than 1,700 available parking spaces. There are 400 more spaces provided for surrounding mixed use development.

The site would not only host a minor league baseball team, but various events and concerts like Arlington, which has bars, restaurants, and music at their venue.

According to the emails from town officials, the baseball stadium is proposed to be a publicly owned facility that is privately operated through a lease agreement. That means, a countywide municipal bond will likely be required to fund the stadium.

If approved by Brunswick County Commissioners, the referendum for the bond could be placed on the November 2023 ballot.

REV Entertainment’s proposed timeline shows, if the bond is approved, groundbreaking would be held in the Spring of 2024, with opening day March of 2026.

WWAY reached out to the Town of Leland, Town Council and Brunswick County for comment. The Town of Leland emailed the following statement:

“We are excited to have interest from REV Entertainment to work together with both Brunswick County and the Town of Leland to develop a world-class development concept with sports and entertainment as the anchor. We look forward to learning more about their interest and developing a potential partnership in the coming months.”

The baseball group will invest in the entertainment, restaurants, and hotel venues adjacent to the stadium, up to $100 million. The community will also get the chance to provide input on the amenities associated with the stadium and would even help brand the team, Leland Town Manager David Hollis wrote in an email to staff.

That same email addressed increased traffic surrounding the stadium. Hollis said that would be mitigated by roadway improvements as the development is built out over time, which would include interconnections with existing roadways in neighborhoods and commercial areas, additional connections to Highway 17 and Highway 133, and other improvements as required from traffic engineering studies.

Hollis also wrote that this location in the northern end of the county is preferred by the baseball group because of the separation from other similar venues and the untapped and growing market throughout northern Brunswick County and New Hanover County.

REV Entertainment already has a foothold in North Carolina. The company manages the Down East Wood Ducks in Kinston and the Hickory Crawdads.

WWAY reached out to REV Entertainment about the proposed plans. The group provided the following statement:

“REV Entertainment is thrilled to work together with both Brunswick County and the Town of Leland to develop a world-class development concept with sports and entertainment as the anchor. We are excited to publicly launch the partnership with an announcement in the coming months.”

This is not the first time Minor League Baseball has been discussed in the Cape Fear. In fact, Wilmington briefly had a minor league team.

In 2001, the Los Angeles Dodgers brought a minor league team to Wilmington. The Wilmington Waves were a low-A team that played their home games at Brooks Field on UNCW’s campus. The franchise only lasted for a year.

10 years later, another group tried to strike a deal to build a baseball stadium in downtown Wilmington. In 2012, the Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball came to Wilmington to discuss a proposal, which included a taxpayer-funded stadium for a Braves MiLB team.

Developers then worked on a private financing plan, which included an offer from Trask Land Company to help finance the project, but it never came to fruition. The stadium would have been built along the Cape Fear River where Live Oak Pavilion is now located.

As for this latest proposal, REV Entertainment, Brunswick County, and the Town of Leland are planning a news conference for late February or early March to share more details on the project.

This is a developing story. We will continue to keep you updated.