The Wilmington Blue Rocks will call Wilmington’s Riverfront home for the foreseeable future. The Blue Rocks announced today that the team had reached an agreement with the Riverfront Development Corporation of Delaware (RDC) to extend its lease at Judy Johnson Field at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium through the 2030 season.
The Wilmington Blue Rocks will call Wilmington’s Riverfront home for the foreseeable future. The Blue Rocks announced today that the team had reached an agreement with the Riverfront Development Corporation of Delaware (RDC) to extend its lease at Judy Johnson Field at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium through the 2030 season. The previous lease was set to expire at the end of the 2023 season. Finalized before the New Year, the new agreement was just formally approved by Major League Baseball.
The Blue Rocks have called Frawley Stadium home since the team’s inception in 1993 and have essentially operated under that same original lease for the past thirty years. The new lease updates and replaces that older version and includes an option to extend the team’s presence in Wilmington even longer; keeping professional affiliated baseball along the Riverfront was a top priority for both the Blue Rocks and the RDC.
“This is a great day for all Blue Rocks fans,” said the team’s Managing Partner, Dave Heller. “In making all of the facilities improvements now required by Major League Baseball, this lease ensures our fans can continue to see the next generation of Major League stars right here in Wilmington today, then turn on MASN and see those same players starring for the Washington Nationals very soon thereafter. All of us with the Blue Rocks are grateful to Megan McGlinchey, Andrew Layman, and the Board of the RDC for working with us to bring this great day to fruition. We also deeply appreciate the efforts of Governor Carney and the Delaware legislature to fund the MLB-mandated player improvements to keep affiliated baseball right here in Wilmington.”
“As the new owners of Frawley Stadium, the RDC wanted to ensure that professional, affiliated minor league baseball would stay in Wilmington,” said RDC Executive Director Megan McGlinchey. “The Blue Rocks were the pioneers of riverfront development in the early 90’s, and now with this new lease, they will continue to be an integral part of our plans for many years to come.”
The Blue Rocks originally relocated from Hampton, VA, where they were known as the Peninsula Pilots, following the 1992 baseball season. Frawley Stadium (originally Legends Stadium) was built by Minker Construction, whose principal, the late Matt Minker, went on to buy the team. The cornerstone piece of the redevelopment of the Wilmington Riverfront, the ballpark opened in less than six months. The first pitch of Blue Rocks baseball took place on Saturday, April 17, 1993, in front of 5,731 fans. In the 30 seasons that followed, the five-time champion Blue Rocks and Frawley Stadium have hosted 10 Mills Cup Carolina League Championship Series and four All-Star Games (1994, 1998 Carolina League, and 2002, 2014 Carolina-California League).
Amongst the team’s owners is Matt’s son, Clark Minker, who has worked closely with Heller to oversee the team’s operations and ensure it continues to serve the people of Wilmington, where he was born and raised. "The experience of building the stadium with my late father, and the father-son catch we had in the outfield just before the gates opened 30 years ago, are memories I will forever cherish,” Minker said. “I am grateful to the State of Delaware, the RDC, and the entire team of people that came together to renew our lease for the next decade of families to enjoy baseball on the riverfront."
There are 210 Major League Baseball players who played for the Blue Rocks during their minor league career, including former MLB stars Jon Lieber (1993), Johnny Damon (1994), Mike Sweeney (1995), Carlos Beltran (1997-98), Zack Greinke (2002-03), Eric Hosmer (2009-10), and Jake Odorizzi (2011), to name a few. Additionally, Frawley Stadium has hosted numerous concerts, including the Beach Boys (1999), Journey (2001), Steve Miller Band (2007), Counting Crows (2007), Live (2007), Collective Soul (2007) and Wilco (2009). The ballpark has also been home to the annual HBCU Battle of the Bands showcase.
As the 2023 season approaches, the Blue Rocks are planning a full promotional calendar with day-of-the-week specials, theme nights, fireworks nights, special appearances, and numerous premium giveaway dates. Season ticket and mini-plans are on sale now; information pertaining to individual game ticket sales will be available in the near future.
The Wilmington Blue Rocks are the High-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. The Blue Rocks play at Judy Johnson Field at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium on the Wilmington Riverfront in downtown Wilmington, Delaware. The Blue Rocks are majority-owned and operated by Main Street Baseball, Ballpark Digest’s 2016 Organization of the Year. The team’s home opener is Tuesday, April 11th at 6:30pm at Frawley Stadium against the Hickory Crawdads, High-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.