More than 2,500 fans welcome the baseball stadium


Initially, Sandy Hurley had no plans to attend the unveiling of the downtown baseball stadium’s “Fayetteville Fans First Look” due to the rainy weather.

But as it approached noon on Saturday when the event was about to begin, she felt compelled to be there. And there she was, the wife of the late former Mayor Bill Hurley for 48 years, at the front row of a groundbreaking ceremony for the new $ 40.2 million Segra Stadium, which will house the Fayetteville Peaks, an A-Advanced class minor league affiliate of the Houston Astros.

Behind her, a crowd of around 1,600 people waited to enter the stadium which stretched from the stadium steps to Hay Street. To stay cool in wet weather, many were waving passed out fans by a city worker with photographs of Mayor Mitch Colvin and city council.

“I’m excited,” Hurley said, noting that throughout their years of marriage her husband had told her repeatedly that he wanted to see a minor league stadium built in downtown Fayetteville. “This is exactly what Bill wanted. I just had this strong feeling that I needed to be here today. It felt like it was a nudge from Bill. . “

After years of planning and investing in the project, city authorities opened the 5,200-seat, 6,000-seat stadium to the community.

More than 2,500 people entered the stadium at 2 p.m., according to the city’s fire marshal. The stadium was open to the public until 3 p.m.

The participants liked what they saw.

“We’re very excited about this,” said Robyn Nolette, who attended the event with her son, Andrew, 8. It is top of the range. I grew up with the Fayetteville Generals at JP Riddle Stadium, so that’s what I envisioned in terms of the playing field, so it goes way beyond that. “

As people walked towards the stadium steps awaiting the start of the event, the 82nd Airborne Division marching band performed. The group also marched onto the field and performed songs after people entered.

The event began with speeches from local, state and federal elected officials, who stood atop the stadium steps and smiled. Among the crowd were the entire Fayetteville City Council, Cumberland County Commissioners, State Representative John Szoka and US Representative Richard Hudson.

Mayor Mitch Colvin told the crowd that in 2016, city officials traveled to Houston, Charlotte, Durham and other communities that have had successful minor league baseball teams that have spurred the economic development of these cities. He said the trip inspired this city to do the same.

“We said, ‘Why not Fayetteville? ”Said Colvin. “We deserve what everyone has. We’re just as good or better as a community than any of these places we’ve seen. I have to admit the fact that it took a bit of vision and a lot of nerve. We have burned a lot of political capital. But today we will see our returns, because right next to us we see over $ 60 million of private investment that has already been committed to our city. It means jobs. This means increased tax revenues and, most importantly, the citizens of Fayetteville will have a place to spend quality time with their families.

City Councilor Jim Arp, who chaired the city’s baseball committee, congratulated everyone involved in the project “for their bold leadership.”

“Without their vision, their goals and their hard work, we wouldn’t be here today,” said Arp. “And we wouldn’t be witnessing the transformation of our city today.”

Mark Zarthar, president of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers, said opening night is Thursday at 7 p.m. against the Carolina Mudcats.

“We’re going to put on an absolute show on opening night and for all 70 home games this season,” he said.

Cumberland County Commissioners Council Chairperson Jeanette Council praised city leaders for their determination and “one goal” in building the stadium.

She said the board was proud to be a partner in helping fund the stadium, putting county property tax revenues from a special downtown tax district to the project.

The heaviest rains lasted until the last speaker, Representative John Szoka. When the rain started to fall, people took out their umbrellas. A ceremonial red ribbon was cut and people walked towards the stadium. As people walked through the stadium gates, they received a city bag with a commemorative magazine section titled, “Home run.” The return of professional baseball to Fayetteville.

Inside the stadium, the jumbotron was on.

Boston’s song “More than a Feeling” rang through the stadium’s speakers.

The subscribers looked for their place to admire the view.

Those who attended could view the stadium from the stands, but not the outfield stands. The upstairs field club level was also closed to the public during final inspections.

James Coffey was walking with children to find his subscription seat along the third base line.

“It’s really awesome,” he said. “It’s cool. I’ll be there for the first game. I have my ticket. Hopefully they’ll be done most of it by then.”

Editor-in-Chief John Henderson can be reached at [email protected] or 910-486-3596.

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