(July 28, 2020, Gastonia, NC) – With Major League Baseball in the process of planning a contraction of affiliated minor league teams, the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) is doing the opposite.
ALPB today announced it is expanding to the City of Gastonia, just minutes west of Charlotte, with a team ownership group led by Brandon Bellamy, CEO of Velocity Companies, Inc. Gastonia becomes the second Atlantic League location in North Carolina, joining High Point, where the Rockers began play in 2019.
“We are delighted to bring Atlantic League baseball to Gastonia, a city that has shown tremendous ingenuity and resolve, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” ALPB President Rick White said in a press release. “Under Mr. Bellamy’s ownership, this club and the ALPB will provide the community with best-in-class baseball and exceptional entertainment for years to come.”
In partnership with the City of Gastonia, Bellamy and The Velocity Companies will collaborate on economic development projects connected to the ballpark, which are expected to include residential, retail, hotel, and office space properties, a potential $100M investment opportunity for the City, according to the press release.
“When we learned of this incredible project, we realized it was an opportunity not just to own a team but also to connect with a community that deserves to be showcased,” Bellamy said. “The City of Gastonia has a strong entrepreneurial history, and we are excited to be a part of its continued growth. We look forward to becoming a good neighbor and making a lasting impact in Gastonia.”
The city’s 5,000-seat multi-use ballpark, which will be managed by the team, is under construction according to Atlantic League facility specifications and will host family-friendly programming, provide an intimate fan experience with sports and innovative gatherings, and offer a unique field configuration.
The outdoor venue will serve as a community recreational asset open to all for its inaugural season in 2021, offering year-round access, anchored by ALPB play, plus entertainment events, community-based sports, and recreational activities. It will function as the centerpiece of the Franklin Urban Sports and Entertainment (FUSE) development, a transformative redevelopment project for the City of Gastonia.
“We are excited to have Mr. Bellamy join us in our continued efforts to create a great place that our community can be proud of,” Gastonia’s Mayor Walker Reid, III said. “This is a milestone for our city and an example of how economic development partnerships invigorate a community and prove to be mutually beneficial for all parties.”
City Manager Michael Peoples added, “This project required all of us to think outside of the box and work together for the City’s future. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Mr. Bellamy and the Atlantic League as we reimagine what Gastonia is capable of achieving.”
This expansion is a big boon for the ALPB, who has lost a few teams over recent years, including the Bridgeport Bluefish and New Britain Bees. But, once Gastonia takes the field, it will have eight clubs located in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas regions.
The teams include the Long Island Ducks (NY), York Revolution (PA), Lancaster Barnstormers (PA), Sugar Land Skeeters (Texas), Somerset Patriots (NJ), Rockers (NC), and South Maryland Blue Crabs (MD).
— Jerry Del Priore
Photo Courtesy of Atlantic League