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  • Writer's pictureSean MacDonald

Jim Perry Stadium – Buies Creek Astros


Photos by Scott Bultman, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71

Jim Perry Stadium 76 Upchurch Ln Buies Creek, NC 27506



Year Opened: 1946

Capacity: 1000

 

Up Buies Creek Without a Future

There are six levels in the affiliated minor leagues: AAA, AA, A-Advanced (High A), A (Low A), Short-Season A, and Rookie. For the first four levels, each MLB team has exactly one club per level, while 22 teams have short-season clubs in the New York-Penn and Northwest Leagues and 18 have franchises in the Appalachian and Pioneer Leagues. Usually, when a franchise moves, it does so within its league. For example, the Brevard County Manatees are now the Florida Fire Frogs, having moved from Melbourne to Kissimmee while remaining in the Florida State League.

But it is possible for teams to move across leagues at the same level. It is obviously important to have an even number of teams in each league, so the only way this could happen was if two teams left one league and moved to another. Given the geographic concentration of the lower level circuits, such a situation is rare, but it did happen this past offseason. Two teams that had struggled in the High A California League jumped all the way over to the Carolina League. Well, that is not quite true.

The High Desert Mavericks and Bakersfield Blaze ceased operations in the California League, while the Down East Wood Ducks (who play in Kinston, North Carolina) and Buies Creek Astros were created as expansion teams in the Carolina League, also a High-A federation. The main difference between a straight move and the contraction/expansion method is that franchise records do not transfer over to the new teams; they are starting from scratch in terms of history.

The Astros are an interesting team because they are only around for two seasons before it relocates 30 miles south to Fayetteville and gains a new identity. For the time being, the team will use Jim Perry Stadium on the campus of Campbell University. As this is a college ballpark, the experience here is quite different than you would expect from a minor league venue.

Food & Beverage 2

There is a single concession stand behind the main building just inside the gate with very basic offerings at very cheap prices. Hot dogs and nachos are $3; sandwiches (BBQ or chicken) are $4, while pretzels, peanuts, and candy are $2. The only special thing at the stand is a cream-cheese filled pretzel for $4. There is also an ice cream cart that sells one scoop for $3 and two for $5. There are a few picnic tables next to first base if you want to sit comfortably and enjoy your meal.

Bottled soda and water is provided by Coca-Cola and sells for $2, as are two varieties of cappuccino. There is no alcohol sold, as this is a campus venue.

Atmosphere 2

The stadium was originally built in the 1940s but an extensive renovation in 2012 makes it seem entirely new. It is a simple place, with a seating bowl that surrounds home plate. Three sections of reserved seats in the middle and a section of GA benches on either end. You can find shade along the top row of seats for afternoon games. There is also a new pavilion named after Perry and his wife along the third base line that is open to the public for Buies Creek games.

Netting protects the entire seating area, which is normal at college ballparks where aluminum bats are used. There is also a new scoreboard above right field that is quite nice.

There are no on-field promotions or any other amenities you would find at a typical ballpark such as a kids zone, starting lineup board, or Road to the Show exhibit. This is a temporary home and thus baseball is important here, not making money.

Neighborhood 2

The Campbell University campus is nice enough, though rather deserted in the summer. I did not see anything open as I drove in. The nearest sports bars are about 3 miles west in Lillington – the Lillington Sports Zone is along US 421 and has a large seating area and a separate bar, while the County Seat Sports Grille is located in the center of town.

Fans 2

Given that the team is leaving in two years, there isn’t much reason to invest time here, but there are some loyal followers. Merchandise is a big seller since, it will not be available past 2018, and most fans had some sort of gear on. Attendance is low, but so is seating capacity and fans that stayed throughout a long game.

Access 4

Buies Creek is about an hour south of Raleigh, though no Interstates go directly there. US-421 is the road that goes directly by Campbell, once on campus, it is easy to drive to the stadium and find parking right outside. Inside, there is no problem getting around or with restrooms or concession lines.

Return on Investment 5

Tickets here are $7 for the reserved seats and $5 for general admission. The benches can be uncomfortable after a while, so you might want to splurge for the better seats. As parking is free and the food is very cheap, this is a great spot to watch prospects play without spending more than $10.

Extras 1

As you can probably tell, there is nothing much here beyond the stadium. There is a banner honoring Jim Perry, who pitched for Campbell between 1956-59 and won the AL Cy Young Award in 1970 while playing for the Minnesota Twins.

Final Thoughts

A Buies Creek Astros game is a unique experience in the minor leagues. If you like your baseball with no distractions, pay a visit to Jim Perry Stadium this year or next, before they disappear forever.

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