Brian DeWine, owner of the Asheville Tourists, says there's no truth to the rumor that the team will play all of its 2024 games on the road. // Watchdog photos by Peter Lewis

Ty Cobb played in the very first game at Asheville’s McCormick Field in 1924. Two years later, Babe Ruth, in town for a Yankees exhibition game, praised the ballpark: “My, my, what a beautiful place to play. Delightful. Damned delightful place!”

But unless the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, and the Tourism Development Authority commit by April 1 to pay an estimated $30 million in renovations for the historic downtown ballpark, there won’t be a 100th anniversary season for the Asheville Tourists in 2024, the team’s president, Brian DeWine, told the Citizen Times last week.

George Herman Ruth, left, and Tyrus Raymond Cobb both played at Asheville’s McCormick Field nearly a century ago

And April 1 is a no-fooling deadline, DeWine told The Watchdog. If local officials don’t agree by then on a plan to pay for top-to-bottom renovations to the stadium — part of a new Major League Baseball requirement for minor league teams to upgrade their facilities, including new locker rooms for female umpires, coaches, and players — “It’s game over,” DeWine said. “There will be no professional baseball here in 2024.”

Will taxpayers balk at spending $30 million to keep a private, for-profit business from leaving town, especially when there are desperate needs to address issues including affordable housing, homelessness, public safety, and education spending?

Or will they rally to preserve a historic facility that has been a “damned delightful place” for generations of family entertainment? The ballpark where Kevin Costner’s Crash Davis homered his way into baseball immortality in the film Bull Durham?

Here’s Asheville Watchdog’s scouting report for those who are keeping score at home:

The Owners

McCormick Field is owned and maintained by the City of Asheville, which leases it for $1 a year to the Asheville Tourists Baseball Club — essentially providing free rent and public assistance for a multimillion-dollar, for-profit private business that is the sole tenant.

The Asheville Tourists Baseball Club is owned by the family of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and DeWine Seeds Silver Dollar Baseball. Gov. DeWine personally owns 32 percent of the team, according to records, but has no management role in the team. Brian DeWine, his son and an Asheville resident since 2010, is the president of the team, and he calls the Tourists “a local, family-owned business.”

Because the city owns the stadium, it’s the city’s responsibility to pay to bring McCormick Field into compliance with new Minor League Baseball (MiLB) Facility Regulations, issued in December 2020, DeWine said.

DeWine is playing hardball with the city. He registered a website,, which went live Nov. 21 urging citizens and the City Council to “Save Minor League Baseball in Asheville,” or else it will be “gone forever.” The website includes a countdown clock showing the dwindling number of days until the April 1 deadline, and email addresses for local government officials.

The city, the county, and the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority have all issued vague and dollar-free statements of theoretical support for the team. But as of Thanksgiving, with 128 days remaining on the clock, the Asheville City Council had not even scheduled a discussion of the issue, and there are zero dollars set aside for McCormick Field renovations in the current budget.

“It’s not like I’m going to take my ball and go home” if local authorities don’t agree to spend millions of tax dollars to modernize the historic ballpark, DeWine told Asheville Watchdog.

Rather, he said, the decision will be made by Major League Baseball (MLB), which enforces MiLB regulations and which has already informed city and county officials that if McCormick Field isn’t modernized, it will look for a new home for the Houston Astros farm club in 2024.

The Decider

MLB keeps a scorecard for each minor league facility, but unlike baseball, where the highest score wins, the league assigns points for each deficiency it finds — the higher the score, the worse. Under the new facility rules, a team must have a total score under 30 to be approved to start the season next April, and under 10 points by 2024.

The Tourists currently score 177, DeWine said.

There is no way the 98-year-old ballpark can achieve under-30 status by MLB’s April 1, 2023 deadline. But, DeWine said, the team can appeal for more time if — and this is a big if — it gets commitments from the community to get the stadium rebuilt in time for the 2024 season.  

The team was already behind in the count. The Tourists narrowly escaped the MLB-mandated minor league “contraction” last year that eliminated more than 40 under-performing minor league teams.

Of the 120 minor league teams that remain — four farm teams each for the 30 Major League clubs — the Tourists “probably ranked about 115” because of McCormick Field’s aging facilities, DeWine said.

The Ballpark

There is a single, 10-foot gate for fans to enter and leave the ballpark. Curiously, the ticket window is inside the gate. // Watchdog photo

The Tourists play in one of the oldest active minor league baseball stadiums in the United States. Only two, both in Florida, are older.

McCormick Field is the smallest ballpark in the High-A South Atlantic (Sally) League, comprising a dozen teams. McCormick Field’s capacity is 4,000 fans; in 2022, attendance averaged 2,742.

By contrast, the league rival Greenville (SC) Drive drew an average of 4,879 fans a night to a ballpark that holds 6,700, according to Ballpark Digest. The Drive, a farm club of the Boston Red Sox, play at Fluor Field at the West End, built in 2005-2006 as a replica of Boston’s Fenway Park at a reported cost of $15 million. The team privately financed a $1.5 million renovation in 2017.

Another rival, the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, a farm club of the Chicago White Sox, opened a newly constructed, 4,900-seat stadium last year. The $52 million stadium — construction was paid by the city of Kannapolis, with the Cannon Ballers paying the city $450,000 rent each year for the next 30 years includes eight luxury suites, a party deck, berm seating, premium dugout box seats, a picnic terrace, an outfield bar, and 6,000 square feet of banquet and meeting space that can be rented for conferences, meetings, and special events throughout the year.

McCormick Field, because of its unique topography — cut into a hillside, ringed by steep slopes, with no obvious place for sufficient parking or additional structures — can’t be expanded easily or cheaply to meet the MiLB requirements, let alone to become the kind of anchor for a massive downtown revitalization project, as the new Kannapolis stadium is intended to be.

So the questions are: How much is cheap, seasonal family entertainment worth to the city? How much economic value does a Class A baseball team, which in 2022 sold 172,000 tickets, bring to the city?

DeWine says a study that his company commissioned calculates the economic benefit his team brings to the community at more than $9.8 million a year, in terms of taxes paid, jobs created, and by attracting free-spending visitors who shop, eat, drink, and rent rooms in town. The club also donates $630,000 a year to local causes, according to

The Money, Part 1

In order to get the stadium rehabbed by Opening Day 2024, the City of Asheville — owner of the stadium — has to come up with all the money. Since it’s not pocket change, the city will have to take out a loan. 

But, DeWine suggests in his plan, the City should first ask the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (T.D.A.) to commit $15 million to the project.

The T.D.A. collects taxes on local hotel and lodging revenues, so if it agrees to the plan, those tax dollars would fund half the projected cost.

That leaves $15 million, which the city would have to borrow. The debt service on the loan, DeWine calculates, including interest, will be $1.2 million a year for the next 15 years. 

DeWine said DeWine Seeds Silver Dollar Baseball is willing to contribute $300,000 a year toward helping the city pay off the debt. That’s comparable to what other MiLB teams contribute to their own ballpark renovations, he said.

Barring some unexpected act of generosity from wealthy private donors or the state legislature, however, Buncombe and Asheville taxpayers would be on the hook to pay the balance, $900,000 a year for 15 years. 

What about the Houston Astros, the 2022 World Series Champions and parent club of the Tourists? The Astros are owned by a billionaire Texas businessman, Jim Crane. Could they pitch in a few million?

DeWine smiled ruefully. The arrangement with the Astros, he said, makes it clear that it’s up to Asheville to provide a good home for its prized young players.

Can the stadium renovations be completed for less than $30 million? 

Probably. Meeting the baseline MiLB facility requirements will account for an estimated 75 percent of the $30 million expected cost, DeWine said, with the rest set aside for “no-brainer” features not included in the MLB requirements: a picnic area, an outfield bar, a pedestrian concourse that wraps around the left-field wall under a new scoreboard, and big video display. 

Or at least maybe. The $30 million estimate for improvements to McCormick Field was made in 2021, before construction costs, inflation, interest rates, and supply chain issues knocked building costs out of the park. But, DeWine said, the 2021 estimate also included generous “contingency” estimates. In other words, there’s some padding.

What about building a new, modern, multipurpose baseball park outside of town, where land might be cheaper?

Again, maybe, but construction costs are still a wildcard, and going far afield would forfeit the attraction of having a baseball stadium that people can walk to from downtown. It’s possible, but uncertain, that private developers would rush in to spend additional tens of millions to develop restaurants and bars, hotels, retail stores, and other attractions around the new stadium.

Anyway, it’s hard to imagine that a new, modern ballpark could be built for less than $30 million these days. The Tennessee Smokies, Knoxville’s Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, is building a brand-new downtown stadium that’s projected to cost $80.1 million. Of that, $74.5 million is expected to come from public tax dollars. The city and county are picking up most of the cost, but the state chipped in $13.5 million. 

DeWine said he hopes the General Assembly will chip in $2.5 million to help the Tourists pay for the upgrades. 

But the legislature is out of session until January and time is running out. It’s also hard to imagine the assembly putting Tourists baseball ahead of announced priorities like Medicaid expansion, voter ID, abortion, school funding, tax cuts, and redistricting. 

Plans for the renovated McCormick Field. Note the new scoreboard and video board in left field above a new pedestrian concourse and the new bullpens. // Illustration by Asheville Tourists
Not shown: Goats grazing beyond the outfield wall, because the slope is too steep for lawnmowers. // Illustration by Asheville Tourists

The Umpires

In public comments, Victoria “Vic” Isley, head of the T.D.A., has strongly hinted at support for the spending.

The T.D.A. has the money. According to Ashley Greenstein, public information manager for Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau, the total occupancy tax paid by visitors who stay in Buncombe County hotels, vacation rentals and B&Bs is projected to be $40.8 million in the current fiscal year.

Current state law requires the T.D.A. to spend two-thirds of its budget on marketing and advertising — like the $1.37 million the T.D.A. spent to advertise Asheville at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York City this summer — but that leaves $13,588,398 to spend on projects next year alone.

In a statement last week, the T.D.A. said “If the City approaches the tourism development authority for capital investment, the Product Development Fund Committee will strongly consider the important role the place and team has had in helping shape our sense of place, contributing to our local economy, and entertaining generations of local families before making a recommendation to the authority board.”

The Product Development Fund Committee, appointed by the T.D.A., is composed of nine members — a majority of them from the local lodging industry. They make recommendations for funding projects that will entice visitors to book hotel rooms, vacation rentals, and bed-and-breakfast stays in Buncombe County, as mandated by state legislation.

Asheville Watchdog was unable to verify how many of the 172,000 tickets sold to Tourists games this season were actually bought by tourists, the kind who would rent hotel rooms and B&Bs. 

DeWine, on the website, asserts that only half of the fans attending games in 2022 were from Asheville or Buncombe County. The other half — 86,000 ticket buyers — were legit out-of-town tourists, the team says.

The City of Asheville last week issued a statement saying, in effect, that it is thinking about studying the issue. However, back in February, Chris Corl, Community Regional Entertainment and Facilities Director for the City of Asheville, told WLOS: “The city’s role with McCormick Field is to help with capital improvements, to stay in line with requirements for Major League Baseball, so that the minor league team can continue operating in the stadium.” 

Buncombe County, which used to own McCormick Field before the City took over, expressed a general fondness for McCormick Field, the Tourists, and baseball in general but stopped short of committing funds.

DeWine has been urging the city to renovate the stadium since at least 2015, and started throwing heat after Minor League Baseball (MiLB) issued its new facility rules in 2020.

Why hasn’t the city acted sooner? Perhaps it’s because politicians, especially in an election year, don’t want to be the ones who vote to kill the beloved local baseball team.

But perhaps it’s also because they also don’t want to be the ones who vote to spend $30 million on entertainment, instead of $30 million to pay a living wage to teachers and police officers, or to pay for reparations to the people whose houses and businesses in the historically Black East End were razed to build the ballpark in the first place.

The Challenges

There were no female umpires, coaches, or players at the time of the last major renovation of McCormick Field in 1992, no energy efficient LED stadium lights, no high-speed digital networks, no metal detectors and heightened security, no video rooms, and no state-of-the-art training and locker room amenities for players and coaches of varying genders.

The food prep and commissary area in player clubhouse is suboptimal // Watchdog photo

But all those are mandated now. “Our players deserve to play in facilities that are up to grade,” MLB Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. said in announcing the new requirements for MiLB ballparks. He said it was “unreasonable” for municipalities that benefit from having a local baseball team to refuse to pay for the newly mandated facility upgrades.

Manfred said “95 percent” of all MiLB ballparks are publicly financed.

Fans also expect more. The $30 million Asheville proposal includes money to upgrade the fan experience, DeWine said, with an added luxury box behind home plate, bigger women’s bathrooms, and a park-like picnic area.

The Press Box, sans press // Watchdog photo

It also includes a bigger press box even though the local newspaper “hasn’t covered the team in years,” DeWine said. More seats are needed, for example, for the person who has to operate the newly mandated pitch clock, intended to speed up games.

The budget also includes improved food preparation and concessions facilities (“Dollar Dog Night” and “Thirsty Thursday” are among the most popular promotions besides Fireworks Night), a fan concourse that wraps around the left field wall (beyond which bears and goats sometimes frolic), an improved scoreboard, better sanitation, and other fan-facing amenities.

New construction is complicated by geography.

Male and female umpires share this shower and toilet room. And no, they’re not blind. // Watchdog photo

One of the oldest active minor league baseball stadiums in the country — only two, both in Florida, are older — McCormick Field was carved into a downtown hillside in 1924 and was named after Asheville city bacteriologist Lewis McCormick. Since then, it has been home to the various incarnations of the Asheville Tourists team, and also served as home field for the Asheville Blues of the Negro Southern League during the 1940s. The ballpark, at 30 Buchanan Place, was rebuilt in 1959, and last had a major renovation in 1992.

Asheville Watchdog confirmed in a recent visit beneath the grandstands that the facilities — locker rooms, lighting, sanitation, playing field, and even electronic systems — fall somewhat short of modern standards for professional sports. Okay, a lot short.

The visiting team’s training room is unlike a spa. Note the bucket. // Watchdog photo

Female umpires and coaches, while not common, have been increasingly employed in South Atlantic League games in recent years. Male and female umpires and coaches currently must share, or take turns, using cramped changing rooms and bathrooms at McCormick Field. A flimsy curtain in the umpire’s room can be partially drawn to separate the dressing area from a tiny shower and toilet closet.

Locker rooms for home and visiting players and coaches are also decrepit by modern standards, with food prep and commissary areas only steps away from open urinals, toilets, and showers. In the visiting team’s locker room, holes in the ceiling are covered by tarps.

The Money, Part 2

DeWine Seeds Silver Dollar Baseball bought the Tourists franchise from Palace Sports and Entertainment in 2010. DeWine declined to tell Asheville Watchdog how much his family paid for the team, but four years earlier Palace Sports bought the Tourists for a reported $6 million.

The club makes money from ticket sales, sponsorships, concessions, and merchandising, among other sources. Its obligations include paying for staff salaries, insurance, and other operational aspects of the team.

The parent club — in the case of the Tourists, it’s the Astros — picks up the player costs that analysts say are typically $10 million to $15 million a season for scouting, salaries, accommodations, meals, and signing bonuses.

MLB controls everything else that happens on the playing field. In return it takes a cut of ticket sales and royalty payments on merchandise sales.

A decade ago, Forbes magazine reported the average franchise value of the 20 most popular minor league baseball teams to be about $20 million. By 2021, despite the pandemic, the average value of those top 20 teams had soared to $37.5 million, according to the valuation firm Sportico. We’re talking about Triple-A teams like the Charlotte Knights and the Durham Bulls.

The Tourists are not among the 20 most valuable MiLB clubs, most of which draw thousands of fans a night and play in bigger, newer stadiums with greater revenue opportunities, like parking and luxury boxes. 

They are not even in the top half of teams in the Sally League, based on the total population base within a 30-minute drive of the stadium, the average household income in the area, and average annual attendance.

They are most likely in the bottom 20 most valuable teams in the league.

But if the Tourists were worth $6 million 15 years ago, and if the value of the franchise increased since then at a comparable rate to other MiLB teams, how much are they worth today?

DeWine appeared to anticipate the question and waved it away before it was finished. Who would even buy a franchise with such an uncertain future? he asked. 

And if MLB rules that the Tourists cannot play at McCormick Field after 2023, where are they going to find another town with a stadium that meets the Minor League facilities requirements? What is a baseball franchise worth if it can’t put a team on the playing field?

“There is no Plan B,” DeWine said.

[This article has been corrected to remove a reference to DeWine Seeds of Ohio, a defunct business whose name was adopted by DeWine Seeds Silver Dollar Baseball in honor of Brian DeWine’s grandfather. DeWine Seeds Silver Dollar Baseball was registered in North Carolina and is a local business. It also restates the amount of money the Tourism Development Authority can spend on local projects in the current fiscal year. The Watchdog regrets the errors.]

[Editor’s Note: This story originally included immature and unnecessarily derogatory comments about certain MLB teams. After review, the comments, ruled to be detrimental to the integrity of journalism, have been removed, and the writer has been ejected.]

Asheville Watchdog is a nonprofit news team producing stories that matter to Asheville and Buncombe County. Peter H. Lewis is a former senior writer and editor at The New York Times. Email

77 replies on “Squeeze Play: Baseball’s Tourists Say Taxpayers Must Pitch In $30M or It’s Game Over”

  1. Isn’t Mike DeWine one of those small government anti-tax types? Doesn’t he hate welfare?

    For $30 million the taxpayers of Asheville and Buncombe County should own the team.

    1. Best idea yet! Make the players city employees and put them on the payroll making the same as Parks & Rec employees. The win/loss record might actually improve…doubt the MLB would sanction

      1. It is, or should be, a crime to pay the players so little, less than minimum wage if you divide the pay by the hours spent. I find it disgusting the for-profit MLB is demanding $30 million.

  2. Another instance of a highly profitable industry bullying local governments and taxpayers into financing its core function. I say strike three.

    1. Bullying ? I think you need to look at the definition
      This is one of the last family friendly activities in Asheville

  3. The article contains everything we need to know. Flour Field in Greenville is an outstanding ball park that is a replica of Fenway. I have been there, it’s a great facility. But, it was built from scratch for $15 million in 2005. The greedy, political and manipulative DeWine family has a free stadium and they are trying to extort Asheville for $30 million for renovations. KICK OUT THE DEWINE FAMILY BUSINESS NOW. We own the stadium. We will do our own renovations as we see fit and attract a new a different minor league team to Asheville very quickly. Who really care about a minor league team that feeds into the cheating Houston Astros anyway. Let’s call the DeWine’s bluff and take control of our future.

    1. Last year, 40 of 160 teams were cut from MiLB. Of those 40, certainly many of them have better facilities than we have currently. The city’s bargaining power for another team may not be as strong as you think.

    2. It’s not the DeWine owners, it’s Major League Baseball that’s mandating these changes. It doesn’t matter who owns the stadium. Without major improvements, MLB will close the Tourists down. It’s all part of MLB owners’ plan to cut costs. Or, as one writer aptly put it, “Everything MLB has done in the past decade has been with the goal of helping billionaire owners pinch pennies.”

  4. This should have been dealt with years ago. Love baseball? Pay a surcharge at the gate to raise funds. Love tourists? Same thing…pay for them. I say we close tge thing down a build a community garden acriss the entire thing.

  5. I went to my first game there in about 15 years this past August. I was fairly disgusted to have to pay $8 for beer in a plastic cup and sit watching a team called the ‘Tourists’. Let the TDA foot the bill or let them go…

  6. This is a quality-of-life event for locals in Asheville. It is not unreasonable to expect the stadium to be maintained and upgraded. It’s $30M now after NO investment for years. The city should not allow the team to leave.

  7. Maybe the Tourists can stop wasting $ on fireworks for there games. We are sick and tired of the explosions that few enjoy.
    Tax payers shouldn’t pay for things that profits others.

  8. Cities use their relationships with owners and developers to build “entertainment complexes” for stadiums, housing and retail. They’re not ideal solutions, but they help accomplish some of the goals for all parties as opposed to citizens being asked to fund a stadium to save a stadium. Of course, that takes some planning and vision as opposed to current plugging the dike where something is leaking approach we have

  9. I am curious to know if there are any MLB teams that aren’t accompanied by a snarky adjective. The teams mentioned here are described as hapless, sleep inducing, hated cheaters. That’s a pile of negativity. Doesn’t make the reader feel all warm and fuzzy about MiLB baseball. Is that a reflection of the writer’s lack of support for the Tourists? But then again, all can be more easily explained by a small phrase in your bio “Peter H. Lewis is…. a Yankees fan.” ‘Nuff said.

  10. “Hated Red Sox, sleep-inducing White Sox, cheating Astros, hapless Cubs, hated Astros”: According to who? These undocumented and opinionated references diminish otherwise fine reporting credibility.

  11. I believe taxpayers are owed several years of audited but simplified financial statements of the Tourist enterprise before any taxpayer monies are approved. Second, a straightforward presentation of each improvement, estimated cost and “justification” (e.g., required by MLB, desired for improved fan experience, etc.) should also be provided. I’ve read several articles now on this proposal and have yet to see that reasonable level of detail and justification for this request. If all of that is not forthcoming for taxpayers to digest, “transparency supporting” government leaders should say NO.

  12. What about Pratt&Whitney funding a portion? Naming rights to certain certain portions of the facility…scoreboard, eating areas, luxury boxes, locker rooms etc? It’s time for innovative financing⚾️

  13. As this article states, the AVL Tourists have only paid $1.00/year for this $10,000,000 city owned asset.

    WE, the tax payers, have paid the cost to renovate and upkeep this property for decades.

    Being the Governor of Ohio, elder DeWine signed anti-choice/abortion restriction legislation before RoeVWade was even overturned.

    “The law DeWine signed, Senate Bill 23, bans abortion after fetal cardiac activity can be detected. That’s about five or six weeks into a pregnancy — a point so early that many women and girls don’t yet know they’re pregnant.
    The law makes no exceptions for rape and incest.”

    Our historic all female city council should stand up for the women and children of this community and cut ties with the DeWines for good.

    1. Excellent point.
      Let the tourist leave. It’s not a locally owned business. And for those who support it for being an affordable family friendly option, how do you think eight dollar tickets are going to fair after all the upgrades of ‘luxury’ items. Call the bluff. No one visits Asheville to see a tourist game. I have no interest in paying higher taxes to support the politics of Ohio owners.

  14. Let em go. Knock the stadium down. Plant some trees. Build some affordable housing. I prefer to watch the “cheating Houston Astros”, “the hated Astros” on TV anyway.

  15. Maybe plan “B” should be to get rid of MLB in Asheville and start a new league with teams from the ousted parks. I agree that if the hometown citizens have to come up with money for the stadium improvements etc. then it’s not right for the DeWines to reap the profits.

  16. We love going to our annual Tourists baseball game. It’s a happy tradition.

    But I’m having a hard time seeing how the City can justify spending $30M dollars to subsidize someone else’s private profits.

    1. Yep, much like all the handouts that developers are receiving to build ‘affordable’ housing and screw up existing neighborhoods. I also wonder how many living wage jobs the Asheville Tourists provide for locals.

  17. Squeeze Play as a perfect title! A good, balanced article.

    There are no easy answers. If the Tourists leave, what does the city do with an empty stadium? Sell it for another hotel/condo complex?

  18. Baseball is America’s game. Asheville needs family entertainment that is not solely focused on breweries. It’s the one place that I see families creating lifetime memories, and Mom and Dad can have some fun watching baseball. These players are hustling hard to make it to the next level, so it’s very competitive. Let’s find a private/public solution to this issue and keep a treasured Asheville tradition alive!

    1. So true Stephen, for the past two years I’ve purchased tickets packages and have gone to many games with family and friends. I often make note how many young families I see. This is an inherent American pastime that is affordable, fun and memorable. I say the Asheville City Council should authorize the TDA to assist with the funding. Regarding DeWine, I’ve seen him walking around the stadium during games, I’ve never spoken to him but I observed him chatting with patrons and being involved with the staff. It is obvious to me that he enjoys being part of the experience. And, while doing my back of the napkin math, I can hardly believe he is cleaning up. Minor league baseball is good for Asheville and the surrounding towns.

    1. Parking issues keeps me from attending the Tourist games. Why not build a new baseball park that has adequate parking for the fans? The $30 million would certainly go a long ways to help in that regard. As it has been mentioned, get the big local corporates to chip in on the project too.

  19. This is an informative article but the writer’s use of the MLB team adjectives makes it too personal and amateurish. We all would be better served with “just the fact” reporting.

  20. Buncombe County Commissioners gave Pratt & Whitney a $27M tax incentive package to come here. (Pratt & Whitney, worth $20B, is a subsidiary of weapons manufacturer Raytheon, worth $80B.) In total, Pratt & Whitney received about $100M in state and local funds to move here. Compare this to the $30M being asked to keep the Tourists here. This would be a great opportunity for the TDA, if they choose to help fund this project, to do something for the residents without overstepping their tourism mission. Politics aside, if one loves this game and wants it to stay in Asheville, let local elected officials know ASAP.

    1. But that is because P&W employ locals; other than two ticket sellers and three vendors, Tourists employee numbers are minuscule.

  21. Sleep-inducing Chicago White Sox? Hapless Chicago Cubs? This Yankee fan/author should more accurately apply these adjectives to his hometown team… the hapless as well as sleep-inducing Yankees, who have not won since 2009, only four years after the White Sox took it all in convincing fashion and seven fruitless
    years prior to the 2016 World Series victory for the Cubs. And how did that juggernaut of a New York team fare this year against the Astros? It was a humiliation. I mean this all as sports banter fun when I reprise Mike Dikka’s quote to sports writers……,.” who you crappin”.

    Oh, and it does seem like DeWine has gotten a sweet deal on rent. Like the restaurant owners who cry poor as they open 2nd, 3rd and 4th outposts (unchain Asheville, my eye), if he wants our money, show us your tax return so WE can determine how much skin he should put in the game. And if we let the Tourists go, I’m reasonably sure we can repurpose the stadium for a number of local events and the City can make a little money to boot.

  22. I agree with all those posts who deride the author for the silly adjectives used to describe major league teams (hated Red Sox, cheating Houston Astros, etc.). Pretty childish and immature. The author’s picture doesn’t make him look as if he’s a sixth grader! Is he? No, he’s the managing editor? Says a lot for this publication.

    1. The silly adjectives have been removed. I’m sorry that they reflected poorly on The Watchdog’s journalistic integrity. Lesson learned.

  23. Rochester NY was put through this wringer in to 90’s. The unique thing was it was a community owner facility. The stadium was owned by the community organization (which had loyal fans as stockholders) and was a classic. It was cheap to run and it was run for the community. Kids could join the “knot hole gang” and get a season ticket in the bleachers for $5. Prices were low and even beer & hots were priced fairly.
    So the Red Wings built a new stadium and it was funder by various government authorities because it would develop the economy. Then Kodak collapsed, Xerox moved out of town. Rochester shrank as a result. Bad investment!
    Kick the DeWines out and respect the idea that it is owned by the taxpayers who just want a pleasant night out and not get raked over the coals by prices to designed to enrich the out-of-town owners. If MiLB continues their demands just drop down a league level or two.

  24. Let’s recruit the Savannah Bananas Baseball team fun entertainment for all – regardless of the Stadiums conditions…

  25. About a year ago our local school district had to shutter Asheville Primary School at 441 Haywood Road because it could not afford just $2 million in repairs.
    441 Haywood had been a school site for over a century. Our kids need safe, quality spaces to learn. Let’s fund our schools, which we NEED before we fund a quant past time.

  26. I don’t care for baseball at all, but many may think Asheville should have a team as part of its cultural appeal. We have spent plenty on a museum that we didn’t need.
    We are giving money to a redistribution commission that can’t figure out what to do with the funds or how to hire consulting company to tell them.
    But really what money would the city receive if they sold the park to a commercial or residential developer? what could the proceed be used for?

  27. The hard truth is McCormick Field is woefully outdated and inferior to its peers and has been for decades. I mean, you have a stadium in one of the most beautiful places in the country that, rather than give fans a view of the city skyline and mountains, faces the side of a hill. It’s cramped. There’s no parking. I can’t see any long-term baseball future in Asheville without an entirely new facility, and good luck with that.

  28. If these numbers are indeed true and can be verified, what would replace this revenue stream to help fund schools, teachers, first responders, et al? Isn’t this similar to the story about “killing the goose that lays the golden egg”?

    “DeWine says a study that his company commissioned calculates the economic benefit his team brings to the community at more than $9.8 million a year, in terms of taxes paid, jobs created, and by attracting free-spending visitors who shop, eat, drink, and rent rooms in town. The club also donates $630,000 a year to local causes, according to”

    1. I suspect the $630,000 donations are a write off kinda like the guy in the van offering candy to kids for…
      Ok…it’s sarcastic! Politics will prevail causing city leadership to let prevailing winds blow their ship in a direction likely not to be in the best interests of citizens. So, elected leadership, prove us naysayers wrong and do the right, not most expedient thing.
      Oh, if you can’t figure out how you got in this mess, look to your predecessors who knew they wouldn’t be in office when the ship was about to be beached.

  29. I think what people may be missing is this is the first public offer. This is a negotiation. No one should accept the first offer on anything. The price gets haggled. Terms for leasing the field get renegotiated. Different parties slowly come forward to put up funds. Additional features that aren’t required by the MLB are put on the back burner. A more palatable deal is struck for the community.

    Thanks for the reporting!

  30. These responses are ridiculous
    Please tell me what we have for families in Asheville- the list is limited . This game – this ballpark has history … but it’s in dire need of repairs and update .
    They are an Astros field team. They do not own the Tourists – they do however contribute financially to many projects for the ballpark

    1. Please offer us specifics on what projects they contribute to as none are so significant as to be obvious to the general public.

  31. Sounds like it’s time to turn McCormick Field into a soccer stadium that won’t flood like the other soccer fields that the city subsidizes over over. Turn the already paved areas behind the stands into pickle ball courts. I like baseball but this is over the top.

  32. Sir, Author,

    Your skewed personal opinions prevent this fact filled article from being as persuasive or as illuminating as it might have been.

    1. Agreed, and the offending adjectives have been tossed. As volunteers and newcomers to the local journalism scene we Watchdogs work hard to earn the trust of readers, and I apologize for letting my baseball partisanship tarnish what I hope you found to be an otherwise balanced and illuminating article. We feel the issue of McCormick Field is of great importance to the citizens of Asheville and Buncombe County, and worthy of greater examination and debate. The well-documented cheating by the Tourists’ parent club, the Houston Astros, was immaterial to the story. PS: Some of my best friends are Red Sox fans.

  33. A minor point, but a fairly egregious mistake … In the following quote from the article, “retributions” should be “reparations”: “or to pay for retributions to the people whose houses and businesses in the historically Black East End were razed to build the ballpark in …. “

  34. No renovations, no team. Asheville will not get another team unless MLB standards are met. It would be such a shame to lose the stadium and Tourist. My wife and I are one of the out of towners who purchase food, drink and merchandise.

  35. As some pointed out this is one of the very few places in Asheville that can be said to offer family entertainment. That is one of the many joys of attending a game there. Losing the Tourists would be a replay of losing Belle Cher–another calamity. Or tearing down the Vance Monument. Or the Merrimon Avenue “diet.” Just three of the many terrible actions over the years by the Asheville City Council. Our current Council, which continues the tradition of fecklessness, it seem hasn’t even addressed the possibility of losing our home baseball team.

  36. A wonderful a sortment of reader comments, all very passionate. Thank you Peter Lewis and Bob for your specfic comments about adjectives et al.
    Well written article.
    Thank you Mike Rains and MB for your common sense.

  37. If it is such a valuable franchise the DeWine family should buy the Stadium with stipulation it shall always be used for baseball or default back to Asheville. Sell it for $1.00 and the City can use the monies saved for repairing infrastructure or other pressing needs.

    1. I agree. If the DeWines can’t make a go of it with such egregious corporate welfare, the city should rent the stadium to me for $1/year and I’ll figure out how to make a profit AND give back to the community. Heck, we might even have host a few baseball games…

  38. I received a solicitation from the Tourists marketing folks via email today. It was designed to play or prey on one’s emotions, nothing more, and asked the reader to email the city council members with pleas to save our stadium and the Tourists.
    Of course I sent an email immediately, requesting the council do nothing more than they are now. I also requested they consider a referendum ASAP to let voters, who may not all be taxpayers, decide the fate of the stadium. A referendum would remove politics, lobbying and who knows what else letting council members focus on more pressing matters.

  39. Memory Lane — A friend from college (Purdue ’62) was a pitcher for the Wilson, NC team in the 60s and he pitched against the Tourists in McCormick Field. I forwarded your article to him and here is his (edited) reply: “I have two memories of that park and I can still visualize them like they were yesterday. Bob Robertson hit the longest home run off me that I ever saw. It might still be in orbit. He played for Pittsburgh Pirates the next year after that in 1967 and stayed until 1979 with different teams – I believe. Also, the only time I ever threw a pitch to hit someone was Dock Ellis a pitcher who ended up a pretty good career in the major leagues also with Pittsburgh. Sometime I will tell you the whole story.” — sounds like they were mixing it up a bit, as opposing pitchers were sometimes known to do.

  40. The bottom line is that it’s a minor league team. The sole purpose is player development to benefit the Astros organization–not to win any pennant or generate community spirit. Very few citizens can name a single player for the Tourists. Very few can name a former Tourist player who has made it to the Majors. And not one person can name a Major League Baseball player who once played for the Tourists and loves Asheville so much that they donated any portion of their multi-million-dollar contract to this city with so many pressing needs.

  41. Let them leave. We save $30 million. If the land is sold to developers, we get many more millions, and then we collect taxes on what is developed there — probably high-density residential, which we need far more than we need this particular baseball team. There are other baseball teams. There are other sports. And they don’t all demand corporate welfare.

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