urlby Anthony Harrison

Longtime residents remember: Back in the late ’90s, the Triad nearly landed a professional sports team.

To make a long story short, the Minnesota Twins almost left the Twin Cities, with Hickory-based businessman Don Beaver proposing to buy the team and settle it in a new home between Winston-Salem and Greensboro in a $210 million stadium outside of Kernersville. The measure, which would’ve required a 1-percent prepared-food sales tax and a 50-cent ticket tax, didn’t pass referendum thanks to the efforts of the libertarian group Citizens Against Unfair Taxes.

So it didn’t work back then. But it could definitely work now.

The Triad has progressed by leaps and bounds over the past 15-odd years. A major-league team would add to a growing reputation.

With 679,970 TV homes, the Triad itself is a relatively small media market. But a team based in the middle of North Carolina wouldn’t just serve the Triad; it would attract people from across the state, South Carolina, Tennessee, southern Virginia — regions currently claimed by the Atlanta Braves, the only team serving the proper South, and regions which could add to our head count.

But hell, Cleveland and Cincinnati split Ohio. And no one worries about tiny Green Bay, Wis. supporting the denizens of Lambeau Stadium.

People especially would attend games if the team starts winning right out of the gate, evidenced by the Miami Marlins or the Arizona Diamondbacks, both teams that won the World Series within their first five years.

Speaking of bringing people to a community, think of the incredible boon to the local economy a professional sports team would represent for the Triad.

Proponents of bringing MLB to the Triad back in the ’90s estimated the venture could bring more than 3,000 jobs and revenues of $140 million per year. It’s hard to imagine both figures wouldn’t be significantly higher by now.

Another thing is abundantly clear: Raleigh supports the Carolina Hurricanes. Charlotte hosts both the Carolina Panthers and the Hornets. The only major metropolitan area in North Carolina not boasting a professional sports team could claim the only Big Four men’s sport unrepresented in the state.

If you didn’t know already, the Charlotte Hornets announced a development league basketball team would begin playing in Greensboro. That’s a clear sign we could support a big-league franchise.

I think baseball would be a home run.

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