By Gray Hurley
Last summer, Fayetteville experienced a revival. On April 18, 2019, people from all over the city gathered at Segra Stadium to witness history. The dream of many generations of fans, including my grandfather, had finally become a reality. Fayetteville had a baseball team. And that team had a name: The Fayetteville Woodpeckers.
In a matter of days, team paraphernalia could be spotted just about anywhere you looked, worn proudly by fans of all ages. But The Fayetteville Woodpeckers as an idea is much bigger than baseball. It’s about family, friends and pride for your city. It’s about thanking our veterans, giving back to the community and interacting with people who don’t live in a neighborhood like yours.
The team and its stadium are ultimately a gateway to many possibilities over the next decade that will help Fayetteville flourish culturally, socially and economically. One of the most significant things that the arrival of a baseball team did for Fayetteville was revitalize the downtown historic district. Businesses in the area, especially restaurants, flourished thanks to the crowds that flocked to Segra Stadium several nights a week. Downtown Fayetteville ultimately became a desirable place to spend the evening, no matter whether a baseball game was scheduled. This boom in patronage continued well after the conclusion of baseball season, and we will surely continue to see more longterm economic benefits over the next few seasons. But perhaps more importantly, having a baseball team brought our community together.
Last summer, people from all over Cumberland County attended games. The first home game of the season was sold out as expected. With this being said, however, many people expected
attendance to drop off after the first few games. Instead, the exact opposite happened. Attendance increased as the season went on. Fans were coming back for more every week, bringing their
family and friends with them.
My family and I were no exceptions to the rule. We went to game after game to support our team and city. The Houston Astros franchise had successfully created a brand that appealed to the community. But how did they do it? What made the Fayetteville Woodpeckers so successful?
It’s simple: the Houston Astros franchise picked the best city in North Carolina. No other city in the state would have been as receptive to a new baseball team than Fayetteville.
I love Fayetteville and feel blessed to have been raised in a community with great schools, churches and leaders. But the Fayetteville Woodpeckers brought something to Fayetteville that I missed during my childhood. I love baseball. Every spring when baseball season rolled around and the scent of grass shavings filled the air, excitement filled my heart. Having a baseball team that represents your city is a powerful and uplifting feeling.
But our local baseball team is not just about the nine innings on the field. It’s about what happens in the stands during those nine innings. It’s about the businesses and organizations that sponsor the Fayetteville Woodpeckers and have seen benefits from that choice. It’s about you, me and our families and friends gathering on weekdays and weekends.
There is nothing in our city that compares or competes with a night at Segra Stadium. Food trucks, beer, entertainment for kids, family fun and sometimes even a spectacular show of fireworks to top off the night.
When you take all these great attractions and offer them to a community of pride and family values like Fayetteville, you get a major success. That’s why our city’s team has received several awards including The Best New Logo and Branding Award for 2019.
Even in this time of uncertainty for all sports, I am confident that we will continue to see high attendance for The Fayetteville Woodpeckers over the next few years. The cancellation of opening day for this year will only generate excitement for the start of the season, whenever that may be.
If you have never been to a game, I highly suggest you get your hands on some tickets when the time comes. You don’t want to miss out on all the fun that’s in store.