By CLTure News
July 30, 2020
Nearly 30 years after losing its minor league team to Hickory, Gastonia will not only be home to a new franchise in 2021, but they’ve announced the majority owner of the new independent Atlantic League team. Brandon Bellamy, CEO of Velocity Companies, a real estate company based in Maryland, is now the only current Black majority owner of a professional baseball team.
The newly constructed FUSE (Franklin Urban Sports and Entertainment District) in downtown Gastonia, a 16-acre redevelopment project will not only be home to the new baseball team, but will serve as a multi-use complex that will host concerts and other sporting events with restaurants and retail space in the complex. Bellamy and Velocity Companies will also work with the city of Gastonia on economic development projects tied to the ballpark.
“When we learned of this incredible project, we realized it was an opportunity not just to own a team but also to connect with a community that deserves to be showcased,” Bellamy communicated in a press release.
Professional baseball hasn’t had a majority Black owner since Tom Lewis, who owned the South Atlantic League’s Savannah Cardinals from 1986-1987. With 30 Major League Baseball clubs, 150 Minor League Baseball teams, and 30 independent franchises, Bellamy’s acquisition is still a rare feat.
“Under Mr. Bellamy’s ownership, this club and the ALPB will provide the community with best-in-class baseball and exceptional entertainment for years to come,” said ALPB President Rick White.
The inaugural season for the team and 5000-seat ballpark is expected to open in the spring of 2021, and a contest to select the name and mascot will launch later this year. Gastonia joins the High Point Rockers as North Carolina teams in the independent Atlantic League.