October 24th, 2019: The day of THE BIG REVEAL, when the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers unveiled their new identity to nearly 2,500 Kannapolis loving, baseball devoted, entertainment seeking fans in the historic Gem Theatre and along the newly renovated West Avenue. It was an evening of sheer bliss. Little did everyone
October 24th, 2019: The day of THE BIG REVEAL, when the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers unveiled their new identity to nearly 2,500 Kannapolis loving, baseball devoted, entertainment seeking fans in the historic Gem Theatre and along the newly renovated West Avenue. It was an evening of sheer bliss. Little did everyone in attendance know how much could -and would- change over the coming months.
The Ballers were riding high after The Big Reveal. Merchandise sales climbed towards the top of all sales in Minor League Baseball, fans were excited about coming to watch baseball in their newly stitched jerseys, and the City of Kannapolis felt like it had gotten a jolt of energy. Even the burly, mustachioed mascot received his name after thousands of submissions on January 15th, as Temerity Baseball’s Chief of Staff Alicia Amling announced Boomer’s name on stage with a selfie in front of hundreds gathered downtown to enjoy the sunshine on West Avenue.
Then, just 36 days before the team’s inaugural season Opening Day, scheudled for April 16th, March 11th happened. On this day, it seemed like the world shut down due to COVID-19.
As March turned into April, it was apparent that the Minor League Baseball season would be delayed. May rolled around and so did June, and the League finally canceled the season on June 30th, officially putting an end to any hopes of a 2020 inaugural season.
As the world ajusted to life at home, the team’s front office downloaded Microsoft Teams, rolled up their sleeves, and kept working. Whether it was preparing for a cornhole tournament, yoga on the field, a softball tournament, or even a New Year’s Eve bash, the team figured life would soon normalize and these events would be a fun way to open up the ballpark.
Months go by, but not much changes. Still waiting patiently for COVID-19 numbers to decrease, the country starts to allow public parks to re-open. Working closely with the City of Kannapolis, the team was able to at last open Atrium Health Ballpark as a public park. The Cannon Ballers found hope in being the home of inspiration and entertainment for the community, even if the venue and activities there looked different than expected.
As soon as the gates opened at sunrise, bikers, skateboarders, dogs, runners, and so many more flocked to the ballpark.
Needing more than just a state-of-the-art kid’s play area, a splash pad, and a beautiful view of downtown Kannapolis to draw people in, the team opened up Boomer’s Bistro, the outfield bar, and a taco stand to entice patrons to visit throughout the week.
Whether it was due to a belly full of loaded nachos or a refreshing ice-cold beverage on a hot day, smiles spread at Atrium Health Ballpark. More events were planned at the ballpark to help fans regain a sense of normalcy, such as the Field of Honor, a chilling display of 500 American flags that honored veterans and current service members.
Once the North Carolina summer weather turned to fall, the Cannon Ballers shifted the outside food and beverage operation to the friendly confines of the Kinetic Club, a 5,600 square foot space that was originally intended to house season ticket holders on game days. With season ticket holders starting to pile into the socially distanced Kinetic Club for Music Bingo or Trivia Night, word quickly spread about Kannapolis’s new favorite restaurant that overlooked North Carolina’s prettiest ballpark.
Unable to decorate Atrium Health Ballpark for theme nights throughout the year, the Cannon Ballers turned to Christmas to flex their creative muscles. A Cannon Ballers Christmas displayed nearly 100 fully decorated trees, with proceeds from the event benefiting local non-profit organizations. The team programmed the outfield lights to “dance” to classic Christmas carols. After the event, all the trees were delivered to families in need.
Although life was not back to normal, life in downtown Kannapolis and at Atrium Health Ballpark almost felt right again.
After the turn of the new year, the Kinetic Club continued to host events including its first wedding, a weekend-long Valentine’s Day celebration, and an Easter brunch. Despite these impactful events taking place at the ballpark, something was still missing: baseball.
On Tuesday, March 23rd at exactly 6:00 p.m., the first-ever pitch made its way across home plate in a game between the Charlotte 49ers and the Appalachian State Mountaineers. Atrium Health Ballpark was finally, officially, a baseball venue.
On May 4th, 2021, professional baseball will be played in Kannapolis for the first time in 614 days. At 7:00 p.m., on that special night, the City of Kannapolis will again have a team to call their own: The Kannapolis Cannon Ballers.
The best is yet to come.