In a pair of articles published last week in the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer, the news was made official that Astros team owner Jim Crane was in town to have "preliminary discussions and to scout the area" in preparation for a possible move of the Astros' High-A affiliate to the town.
In the article, Crane mentioned that that he was hoping to have a stadium built by the 2018 season. In August of 2014, the Astros extended their Player Development Contract with the Lancaster Jethawks for two years. That agreement will conclude at the end of the current season. Where might the Astros play in the meantime? According to the article:
Crane said he and his entourage were going after lunch to Fort Bragg to inspect a ballpark under construction that will be the site of a televised game between the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins on July 3.
Lancaster has been the home of the Astros' High-A affiliate since 2009. The team has enjoyed unprecedented success in the last several years, thanks in large part to the Astros' overhaul of their minor league system. A move to the Carolina League would likely place the Astros' High-A affiliate in the same league, once again, as the Texas Rangers' High-A affiliate, as that team looks exceedingly likely to relocate their affiliate from High Desert, in the Cal League, to Kinston - just 82 miles away from Fayetteville down NC-55.
Fayetteville, the fifth-largest metropolitan area in North Carolina, is best-known as home to Fort Bragg, but it has never hosted a professional baseball team.