Friday, June 14, 2024

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Swepsonville Ballpark under evaluation as summer team Swepsonville Sweepers moves out

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By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

The Swepsonville Sweepers, who had been a summer collegiate baseball team for three years, no longer exist as town officials assess the next move for the town’s aging ballpark.

The condition of Swepsonville Ballpark and low attendance appeared to be factors in the disbanding of the team.

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The Sweepers were members of the Old North State League (ONSL), which is a lower-level league on the collegiate summer scale. Players generally played for Division III teams or junior colleges, with some coming directly out of high school to play.

The team’s departure didn’t come as a surprise to Swepsonville town administrator Brad Bullis.

Bullis said ONSL representatives spoke to the town council prior to the 2022 season and there were indications that there were plans to move out of Swepsonville after the season.

Last June, the Town of Swepsonville received an assessment from a structural engineer regarding the bleachers and canopy at the ballpark. Based on a recommendation, the bleachers were closed off based on safety concerns.

An adult softball player practices this spring in front of the grandstand at Swepsonville Ballpark.

The season for the Sweepers continued despite the inconveniences for ballpark visitors.

Bullis said it’s possible the bleachers will be removed. The town is seeking input from residents regarding the future of the ballpark. He said any major decisions would be part of a parks and recreation masterplan.

Blending the past and present will be considered as the ballpark’s future is determined, Bullis said.

“It has played a prominent role in the town,” he said.

The ONSL runs from late May through late July. It began in 2019 with eight teams, with Swepsonville joining the following year. There were 13 teams with about 400 total players last year and it has grown to 15 teams for this year.

Former ONSL president Alec Allred said it takes about $40,000 annually for operations for each team. Allred has shifted to a different title as chief executive officer of The Players League, which purchased ONSL. Allred was based in Ramseur, though he now lives in Whispering Springs.

ONSL teams are spread across the state ranging from Brunswick County to Hendersonville. There are teams in Reidsville, Sanford, High Point, Lexington and Raleigh. High school fields are used for some ONSL teams.

In part, the neat thing for Swepsonville was being linked in a league with teams from larger cities such as Raleigh and Fayetteville.

“It was nice to say we had a team,” Bullis said.

With about 30 players per team, some players came from local schools or nearby counties. Others on the roster came from around the country, with last year’s Sweepers consisting of players from Iowa and Wisconsin.

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