The Tarboro River Bandits will return next year to Municipal Stadium in Tarboro to defend their Carolina Virginia Collegiate League title in 2021.
The River Bandits finished 29-11 it their first season and swept the post-season tournament, beating defending champion Fuquay-Varina for the title.
Council members voted unanimously to approve a new lease and concession agreement between the town and team, owned by Wayne and Susan Turnage of La Grange.
Under the terms of the new agreement, the River Bandits will pay a base of $4,350 for the nonexclusive use of the stadium and town facilities between May 15 and Aug. 8.
“After we reviewed everything, we saw that we needed to charge a little more,” Town Manager Troy Lewis told the council.
Ward 8 Councilman Tate Mayo said that as a player host, he got to get a better look at the team and the players and said it was a very pleasant and rewarding experience.
Because of the COVID-19 impact on prep sports, the Tarboro High School baseball season could still be underway. As a result, the Tarboro Vikings will have priority use of the stadium for scheduled home games until the completion of their season.
The contract reads that for one full weekend of the Top Gun Summer World Series Tournament, the town will retain exclusive use of the stadium for that event should it be awarded the tournament.
Even with that, the River Bandits would still be able to host night games starting no earlier than 6 p.m. on that weekend.
The team has until May 1 to submit its schedule and practice days to the Parks and Recreation Department’s athletic supervisor to be placed on the master event schedule.
But while the River Bandits will be back to defend their title, they’ll be doing it with a new field manager as inaugural season skipper Brandon Matthews posted a message on social media on Sept. 14 that he would not be returning.
Matthews wrote that he and his wife had decided to move on to what he called “other adventures in life.”
Matthews led the River Bandits to the title with an aggressive style of play, both at the plate, running the bases and defensively, and was rewarded by being named CVCL “Manager of the Year.”
There was a core group of fans that included hosts as well as members of player families and about a dozen or so diehard townspeople.
Earlier, Wayne Turnage told The Tarboro Weekly that he was pleased with late-season crowds and those during the tournament.
With the most stringent COVID-19 crowd restrictions limited, it is thought that the River Bandits will draw well — especially if the team’s success continues.
Turnage also said that he thought the live-streaming of games on social media might possibly have hurt attendance, as there were as many 500 people logged in to the broadcast.
“They weren’t all from here, of course, but it might have had an impact (on in-person attendance),” he said.
The River Bandits are already seeking host families for the 2021 season and are looking for at least 25 families to host.
Last season, the team had mixed success with getting hosts but after a successful year both on and off the field, the anticipation is that more families will be interested in hosting.
In a Facebook post, the team said home requirements for being a host family include providing a room and bathroom, space in the refrigerator, access to a washing machine and dryer and being located within one hour of Municipal Stadium.
People interested in being a host should contact Susan Turnage at 252-531-8560 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.