On April 23rd, the Gastonia City Council was introduced to the new majority owners of the Gastonia Grizzlies.
Matt Perry, President of National Sports Services, a national sports marketing company, met with City Council at the scheduled meeting to review the FUSE project. Perry and his business partner, Bill Davidson, are acquiring a controlling interest in the Grizzlies from Gaston Baseball Inc., which is owned by Jesse and Emily Cole. The Cole’s will remain with the Grizzlies as a minority partner, and will remain active with the new ownership group in ongoing operations of the team, and the development of the FUSE project, and accompanying multi-purpose stadium. Jesse and Emily have brought on National Sports Services as a majority partner to oversee and help with the day to day operations. Jesse and Emily are starting to expand their family with the birth of their first child, due May 3rd. “We are so excited to welcome Matt Perry and National Sports Services to the Grizzlies family”, said Jesse Cole. “The last 11 years have been a labor of love in Gastonia. Now as Emily and I start our family, we are so excited to have someone with so much experience help us carry the torch and continue the success of the Grizzlies.”
At the most recent scheduled meeting, the City Council unanimously approved the transfer of the Sims Legion Stadium lease agreement to Gastonia Family Entertainment, LLC, the North Carolina entity being established by National Sports Services. Perry commented, “We’re tremendously excited to work with Jesse, Emily and the City of Gastonia in continuing to grow the Grizzlies position in the community and ensuring the FUSE project continues to advance. In turn, we’re very fortunate that a very capable and experienced front office staff is in place.”
Perry added, “The team has done a wonderful job in providing an entertaining environment at the ballpark, and has been entrenched in community enhancement projects. We are stepping into a solid situation, and endeavor to bring our decades of sports experience to the table to enhance the success of the organization where we can.”
The formal change of controlling ownership interest will occur in May, following approval of the transaction by the Coastal Plain League.
National Sports Services, founded in 1998, is a national sports marketing firm, with offices in Topeka, Kansas and Cleveland, Tennessee. The firm’s expertise includes buying and selling sports teams, developing new stadium projects, negotiating facility leases, selling key sponsorship inventory and operating sports teams and spectator venues. Davidson and Perry each have more than 30 years of experience in the industry, with combined involvement with more than 50 sports teams, the heaviest emphasis in minor league professional baseball and minor league professional hockey.
Perry and Davidson acquired the Wilmington Sharks franchise in the Coastal Plain League in May of 2017. They are also part of a partnership group that just acquired the Lafayette Aviators summer collegiate team in the Prospect League.
The Grizzlies have welcomed more than a half million fans to Sims Legion Park, have been named Organization of the Year twice and have won two CPL Championships.