Economic impact of Wood Ducks baseball team’s departure from Kinston

KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) – Friday was the start to the final season for a minor league baseball team in one Eastern Carolina city. But could that have a negative impact on the area financially?

Preparations were underway on Friday morning at the historic Grainger Stadium for opening day of the Down East Wood Ducks baseball team – their final one in the city.

Jessie Joyner, owner of Jessie Bell’s Soulfood Restaurant says she feels the move won’t hurt her business financially.

“My greatest support is from the community. The community is our greatest support. We get more support from our local community so I really won’t feel the blunt of it you know because the older generation is here, the younger generation so they are our population of customers,” says Joyner.

The team is preparing to depart for Spartanburg, South Carolina, leaving the city without a minor league team after this season.

Kinston Mayor Don Hardy told WITN the process of finding a new sports team is in the works and the team could be selected as early as next year.

“I don’t have a number but I can tell you it’s more than a dozen for sure. So, we have several teams that have applied. I don’t know exactly how many but I know it’s more than 2 or 3, it’s well over a dozen,” says Hardy.

Last year, the Texas Rangers announced they sold the Down East Wood Ducks to Diamond Baseball Holdings.

Joyner recommends any business owners worried about taking a financial loss, to instead focus on finding other ways to attract customers.

“Honestly and truthful it is our local people that actually keep us afloat because even during COVID it was the local people and the community that kept us here when a lot of other businesses closed down we’re still here by the grace of god and the community,” says Joyner.

Mayor Don Hardy says the Rangers have a lease with the city to use Grainger Stadium until 2031.