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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Hunter Wright Stadium - Kingsport Axmen


Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Hunter Wright Stadium 800 Granby Rd Kingsport, TN 37660

Year Opened: 1995 Capacity: 2,500

 

Along the Appalachian League Trail: Kingsport

Kingsport, Tennessee has a long history with minor league baseball, as the city has had some sort of affiliation with major league baseball since 1921. Teams associated with the town include the Dodgers, Orioles, Braves, Pirates, and most recently the New York Mets. Amongst the major leaguers who got their start in Kingsport are Al Cowens, Steve Bedrosian, Dale Murphy, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and David Wright.


The Mets have had the longest tenure of the team with Kingsport, as it has been a Mets affiliate since 1980. Since 1995, the Mets have called Hunter Wright Stadium their home field. The 2,500-seat facility has seen the Mets win one league title and two division titles since it was built.


Food & Beverage 4

The main concession stand is in a sheltered area under the grandstand behind home plate. It offers a wide selection of baseball favorites, including hot dogs, burgers, tacos ($6.50), BBQ sandwiches ($5), nachos, peanuts, chips, mozzarella sticks, popcorn, pretzels, and pizza ($3.50). Beverages include Pepsi brand sodas, lemonade, Gatorade, bottled water, tea, and beer. A very popular food cart comes to every game and dispenses more than 30 flavors of shaved ice.


Atmosphere 4

Hunter Wright Stadium shares the typical design feature of having premium bucket-style seats in the area of home plate with bleacher seating down each base line.No matter where you sit, you will have an excellent view of the action, as the seating is very close to the field. Unlike many Appalachian League stadiums, there is no roof covering the grandstand to protect fans from the elements. However, there is a large party pavilion atop the hill along the first baseline that can provide shelter from the weather if it has not been rented out for a private party.


Neighborhood 4

Kingsport is a city of 52,000 residents located just two miles from the Tennessee/Virginia state border. It is the largest city in the Tri-Cities area. As a result, it offers a wide variety of attractions, dining options, and lodging possibilities.

Hunter Wright Stadium is in a residential neighborhood, but it is within walking distance of one of the main thoroughfares in Kingsport, West Stone Road. The mountains surrounding the town serve as the inspiration for two of the main attractions in the area.


The Mountain Music Museum and the Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium are both worth checking out before or after a game. Two restaurants we recommend are the Model City Tap House and Braeden’s BBQ. Almost every hotel brand is located at the exit 1 interchange of I-26, but two that provide excellent value and quick access to Hunter Wright Stadium are the Comfort Suites and the Holiday Inn Express.


Fans 5

The K-Mets have one of the most established fan bases in the Appalachian League thanks to their nearly 40-year relationship with the city. In addition to the locals, a surprising number of fans travel down from the Big Apple for some summer league action.


They are not afraid to cheer loudly or share their opinions of a call with the umpire, but it is all in a family-friendly way. The attendance at Hunter Wright Stadium is nearly always a sellout, with many fans lining the hillside along the first base line. The team store at the stadium is one of the most well-stocked in the league, as every fan seems to have at least one article of clothing featuring the Mets’ orange and blue color scheme. Working hard to keep the fans fired up during the game and entertained during the lulls are Slider, the Mets canine mascot, and the Fun Crew.


Access 3

Both Kingsport and Hunter Wright Stadium are easily reached via I-26. The most direct route is to take I-26 to exit #1 (Stone Road/Highway 11) in Tennessee. Go west on Highway 11W for two miles and turn right at Granby Road. Hunter Wright Stadium will be on your left. Parking is free adjacent to the stadium, but the Mets fans arrive early and the lot fills quickly. Get there less than 30 minutes before a game and you will be parking on the grass along the side of Granby Road.

The plaza just inside the gate of the stadium is large and spacious. If you sit along the first base side of the field, you should have no problem reaching your seat. To reach seats behind home plate or along the third base line, you must pass through a narrow breezeway with concession stands lining both walls. This area remains a serious bottleneck throughout the game.

Return on Investment 3

A visit to Hunter Wright Stadium will not do much damage to your wallet. Tickets are priced are $8 for a reserved seat, $6 for a general admission seat, and for children 12 and under, seniors, and active military get in for $5. The concession prices are very reasonable, and parking is free. The rates are typically under $100 at area hotels. Parking is free at the ballpark.


Extras 4

K-Met players sign autographs before each ballgame. The picnic pavilion on the first base side of the stadium offers a great vantage point to watch the game and be protected from the harsh sun of a Tennessee summer.

The K-Mets have a stunning display showing the vast number of team members who have gone on to play at Shea Stadium/Citi Field. Season ticket holders are recognized on a banner at the entrance to the stadium.


Final Thoughts

The Mets and the city of Kingsport are the longest-tenured arrangements in the Appalachian League. This has been mutually beneficial as it is obvious that both the team and the city have worked together to make Hunter Wright Stadium one of the showcase facilities in the league. Each off-season the stadium is evaluated for what can be done to improve the fan experience and the changes are implemented. This is rewarded by the most loyal fan following in the league, multiple sellouts, and a definite desire to return for future games.




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