During the past few weeks we've been following the unfolding saga of the Atlanta Braves intention to relocate their high-A franchise to Wilmington, North Carolina. All along I figured that the Braves would simply create a new minor league franchise (out of thin air), and not renew their contract with the Lynchburg Hillcats, which expires after the 2014 season.
Come to find out that the Braves seem to prefer to purchase the Hillcats and move that franchise to Wilmington.
The Atlanta Braves have reached a tentative agreement with the Lynchburg Baseball Corporation to purchase full control of the Hillcats, Lynchburg general manager Paul Sunwall said Wednesday. But the sale will not commence unless Wilmington agrees to build a new stadium for the Braves.
The sale would also be contingent on another minor league franchise moving to Lynchburg. Hillcats beat reporter Chris Lang of the Lynchburg News & Advance also wrote this in his story about the Braves possibly purchasing the 'Cats:
The Braves first approached Lynchburg about purchasing the team in the fall and the tentative agreement began to come together in late December, Sunwall said. The Hillcats are the only team in Atlanta’s minor league system not owned by the parent club.
If the stadium deal falls through in Wilmington, Atlanta will not purchase the Lynchburg franchise.
That begs the question about what any new team in Wilmington would be called (clearly this is a very important topic for me). If the Braves purchase the Hillcats franchise, they may not necessarily care about purchasing the Hillcats name. Firstly because we all assume they will want to rebrand the new Wilmington franchise with the "Braves" moniker, and secondly because "Hill" cats doesn't really fit in a coastal city. I continue to hope (and lobby for) the Braves to choose a unique and original name, and not lazily put Braves in front of the city (or state) name as they've done everywhere else.