New details on potential minor league baseball and entertainment development on 1,400+ acres in Leland, residents react

Residents like Joey Upchurch are excited about what the possible complex could bring to the community.
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 3:47 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2023 at 5:58 PM EST
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LELAND, N.C. (WECT) - Emails obtained from the Town of Leland show new details about a potential development including the investment of up to $100 million on over 1,400 acres along Hwy 17 next to Brunswick Forest.

The Town of Leland is working with REV Entertainment and Brunswick County to develop “a world-class development concept with sports and entertainment as the anchor,” town officials announced Wednesday.

An email from Leland Director of Planning and Inspections Ben Andrea states that a representative with REV Entertainment and the Texas Rangers Major League Baseball organization to attract a minor league professional sports/entertainment venue to the area, and that the group is now proposing a smaller version of their Arlington, Texas development as part of the Jackeys Creek development.

A presentation from REV Entertainment outlines their model to use sports as a catalyst to spur further development.

Residents like Joey Upchurch are excited about what the possible complex could bring to the community.

“As a kid, this was our stadium right here, this ball field, we didn’t have stuff like this, we had to travel to Myrtle Beach or to Kinston or places like that,” Upchurch said.

REV could invest up to $100 million in entertainment, restaurants and hotel venues adjacent to the stadium. A timeline shows a public announcement in the first parts of 2023, a finalized conceptual design by April or May, a groundbreaking in Spring 2024 and an opening day in 2026.

“I was kind of skeptical because of you know, the growth that has happened here in the past and the infrastructure can’t keep up with something like that. But then when I really started digging into it and and learned about some of the facts, and some of the benefits that it would have to this community, man, it’s a no brainer.”

Based on notes from the town manager, the planned development will probably happen regardless of whether or not baseball stays a part of it. The baseball stadium could be a publicly owned facility that is privately operated via a lease agreement. Paying for the stadium may require a county-wide municipal bond, and a referendum for that bond could end up on the Nov. 2023 ballot if approved by the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners.

“If our taxes do raise slightly, guess what, they’re going to raise anyways down the road,” said Upchurch. “So, I’m willing to pay extra taxes if it benefits my children and their children.”

The lease revenue would offset the debt service on the bond along with the increased value created around the stadium.

Other residents have expressed concerns about traffic on that part of Hwy 17 and northern Brunswick County.

Town emails say the increase in traffic would be mitigated by roadway improvements as the development is built over time. Improvements could include interconnections with existing roadways in neighborhoods and commercial areas and additional connections to Hwy 17 and Hwy 133. These would be coordinated with the N.C. Department of Transportation and local agencies and be needed regardless of whether baseball is part of the picture.

Town officials plan on announcing more information at a press conference with REV Entertainment, Brunswick County, and Leland in late February or early March.

The date will be announced through Leland’s website and social media.

Plans for a proposed entertainment development in Leland, North Carolina titled "Jackeys Creek...
Plans for a proposed entertainment development in Leland, North Carolina titled "Jackeys Creek Master Plan"(Jones Petrie Rafinski, REV Entertainment, The Town of Leland)