ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- Minor League Baseball today announced the Class A AdvancedCarolina League will add two teams for the 2017 season as part of a broader realignment at that level of play. The California League's Bakersfield Blaze and High Desert Mavericks will cease operations at the completion of the 2016 season.
The 2017 season will see a return of professional baseball to Kinston, North Carolina. Kinston served as the home of Carolina League clubs from 1956-57, 1962-74 and 1978-2011. Several locations are under consideration for the second Carolina League club, with Fayetteville, North Carolina having made steady progress toward a stadium that would see play beginning with the 2019 season. Fayetteville served as the home of a Carolina League club from 1950-56, and as the home of a South Atlantic League club from 1987-2000.
"This step was taken with the best interests of Minor League Baseball, both leagues and our Major League Baseball partners in mind," said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O'Conner. "California League President Charlie Blaney, Carolina League President John Hopkins and the club owners in both leagues worked to address this important issue and I thank them for their efforts. We are happy that professional baseball will return to Kinston and we are pleased with the steps Fayetteville has taken to bring professional baseball back to that great city as well."
"Baseball has had a long and wonderful history in Bakersfield," said Bakersfield owner D.G. Elmore. "I am sorry to see it come to a close."