Who Needs MLB? North Carolina Still Has Some of the Best Ballparks in America.

The Durham Bulls Athletic Park, one of the finest ballparks you'll find anywhere. (Photo: Durham Bulls)

By Max Millington

July 26, 2021

From Kinston to Charlotte to Hickory, Cardinal & Pine’s guide to the best ballparks in North Carolina.

The smell of popcorn, hotdogs, and cracker jacks means baseball is well underway in 2021. 

If you haven’t been to a game yet there’s no reason to worry, there’s still plenty of baseball happening throughout North Carolina from little league to amateur to professional. 

While “The Show” hasn’t arrived in NC yet, there are lots of beautiful facilities dedicated to some very good minor league clubs. While we couldn’t list all of them (sorry Grasshoppers, Dash, Tourists, and Mudcats), we did our best to identify some of the best parks in the state for both the avid and casual baseball fan. 

Without further ado, here are some of the best spots to see a baseball game in North Carolina. 

Durham Bulls Athletic Park – Durham

According to the Durham Bulls, Wool E. Bull’s “likes” include winning, high-fives, and hugs. His dislikes? Losing, anything red, and, naturally, steaks. (Image via Durham Bulls)

The “DBAP” is an open-air ballpark located in the heart of downtown Durham. This ballpark is home to the Durham Bulls, the Minor League, Triple-A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays. You can also catch the Duke University and NC A&T baseball teams at DBAP during the college baseball season. 

This ballpark is so immersed in the city that one could watch a ballgame from one of several adjacent buildings and offices. With a capacity of 10,000, the DBAP seats plenty, but there’s also plenty of standing room for the kids (and adults) to stretch their legs and it’s very easy to access concessions without ever having to leave the field. The ballpark’s design also makes it one of Durham’s premier destinations to see fireworks on Friday and Saturday nights. And after each game, kids are allowed on the field to run the bases, no cleats required! 

Atrium Health Ballpark – Kannapolis 

Photo: Kannapolis Cannon Ballers

Atrium Health Ballpark is a $52 million facility that hosts the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers — a Minor League baseball team in the Low-A East division and affiliate of the MLB’s Chicago White Sox. Located less than 20 miles from Charlotte, the ballpark seats just under 5,000 fans and provides flexible seating arrangements including family picnic areas. 

The ballpark also features a 20,000 square foot Kids Zone and a walking track that loops through the park. What makes Atrium Health Ballpark unique is that on non-game days the community can still use it as a public park.

Grainger Stadium – Kinston

Photo: Down East Wood Ducks

Baseball is alive and well in eastern North Carolina thanks to Kinston’s historic Grainger Stadium, one of the oldest ballparks in NC, having opened in 1949. This ballpark seats 4,100 and is home to the Down East Wood Ducks, a Low-A affiliate of the MLB’s Texas Rangers. Kinston has experienced many different versions of minor league baseball since the first team (that had no nickname) was formed in 1908. Professional baseball returned to Kinston in 2017 after being absent since 2011. 

Grainger offers weekly promotions like $1 beers and hot dogs and giveaways of everything from jerseys, to t-shirts and backpacks for kids. Adults can also enjoy Kinston’s famous Mother Earth brewing at the new  “Mother Earth Pavilion,” a new hospitality structure down the right field line.

L.P. Frans Stadium – Hickory

Photo: City of Hickory

Located at Winkler Park in Hickory, North Carolina, L.P Frans Stadium is the home field of the Hickory Crawdads. The ballclub is in the High-A division and like the Wood Ducks of Kinston, they are the minor league affiliate of the MLB’s Texas Rangers. The roughly 4,000 seat ballpark was built in 1993 and named after Pepsi bottler Lee Polk Frans, whose daughters made a large donation to help fund the construction of the stadium. 

Major renovations in 2013 brought a new VIP section, Picnic Pavilion, three outdoor Party Patios, completely renovated suites, Crawdads Cafe, and front offices. The stadium also received new stadium lights and a repaved parking lot. This ballpark also features a LED video board measuring 15.5′ tall by 54′ wide. In addition to the ballpark, there is the Winkler Activity Center, a playground, walking trails, and the museum and birthplace of Elmer Winkler, the man that donated the 37 acres of land to the city of Hickory in order for the stadium to be built. 

Segra Stadium – Fayetteville

Photo: Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Baseball fans in Cumberland County can head to Segra Stadium in the heart of downtown Fayetteville. The new $40 million baseball stadium is the home of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers, the Low-A affiliate of the MLB’s Houston Astros. The ballpark accommodates about 5,290 spectators and hosts special occasions like weddings, festivals, and charity events year-round. 

The stadium features real turf grass and a 75 foot wide digital video board. As with many ballparks on this list, flexibility is a hallmark at Segra Stadium, allowing for fans to have regular seats, picnic style seating, and even a section of rocking chairs past the center outfield wall. The ballpark keeps the whole family taken care of with a dedicated Kids Zone to keep young ones busy while the adults can relax with a drink in hand. Need some time to kill before or after the game? Segra Stadium is surrounded by the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, Fayetteville station, and the Prince Charles Hotel.

Truist Field – Charlotte

Photo: Charlotte Knights

While Charlotte continues to wait their turn for a Major League franchise, baseball fans in the Queen City have happily settled for enjoying the Knights — a minor league Triple-A affiliate of the MLB’s Chicago White Sox, at Truist Field. Located in Uptown Charlotte, this open-air ballpark boasts a great view of the city’s skyline from any of its 10,000+ seats. 

Much like their Triple-A rivals in the Bull City, Truist Field is a premiere location for fireworks on Friday nights. If you like big hits, there’s perhaps no better ballpark in the state. Due to the dimensions of this facility, it’s gotten the reputation of being “hitter friendly” so don’t leave your seat too many times or you may miss a home run!


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