|Northwest Arkansas Naturals|
Founded in 2008
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||Double-A Central (2021–present)|
|Texas League (2008–2020)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Team||Kansas City Royals (2008–present)|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles (1)|
|Division titles (4)|
|First half titles (3)|
|Second half titles (5)|
|Name||Northwest Arkansas Naturals (2008–present)|
|Ballpark||Arvest Ballpark (2008–present)|
|Rich Products Corporation|
|General Manager||Justin Cole|
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are a Minor League Baseball team based in Springdale, Arkansas. The team is a member of the Double-A Central, and serves as the Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The Naturals play at Arvest Ballpark, which opened in 2008 and is located at the intersection of Gene George Boulevard and Watkins Avenue. The team relocated from Wichita, Kansas, in 2008, where they were known as the Wichita Wranglers. The Naturals were previously members of the Texas League from 2008 to 2020.
The Wichita Wranglers had struggled with low attendance numbers and an aging Lawrence–Dumont Stadium throughout Bob Rich Jr.'s 18-year ownership of the team. In 2006, he sought a move to Springdale, contingent on a citizen vote to approve financing for a new stadium.
The pro-baseball movement in Springdale had counted on the support of Ronnie Floyd, influential pastor of local megachurch First Baptist Church of Springdale. In June 2006, Floyd abruptly pulled his support after he discovered that the team would serve alcohol at games,making professional baseball a contentious and evenly split issue in Northwest Arkansas. The July vote on a measure to extend a one-cent sales tax to raise $50 million for the stadium passed by only 15 votes.
The team's nickname plays off the state's nickname as the "Natural State," as well as the Robert Redford film, The Natural. The Rich Family owes much of its baseball success to the film. In 1983, Bob Rich Jr. bought the Double-A Buffalo Bisons, who had suffered low attendance the previous season, for $100,000. That year, Hollywood producers approached Rich about filming scenes for The Natural at Buffalo's War Memorial Stadium. Following the release of the film, local interest in the team rose and attendance at the Bisons' games nearly tripled. Rich was then able to finance the Bisons' move to the Triple-A American Association. In something of a coincidence, the Triple-A Bisons were formerly the Wichita Aeros, meaning Rich has purchased two teams that had played previously in Wichita, Kansas.
The "Naturals" name was chosen after receiving 33 percent of the votes in an online fan poll, beating the second-place choice, "Thunder Chickens," by six percent. The "Thunder Chickens" moniker was a nod to Springdale-based Tyson Foods, which is the nation's largest supplier of poultry products, and to the region's poultry industry. Every season, the team embraces the Thunder Chickens brand for a single game with matching uniforms and merchandise.
The Naturals had early success, advancing to the playoffs in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, the Naturals won the North Division title, but lost in the Texas League championship series to the Midland RockHounds. In 2010, the Naturals swept the first and second-half titles, won the North Division title for a second straight year, and avenged their loss to Midland in 2009, winning the Texas League title in a 3–1 series victory over the RockHounds.
On June 8, 2008, pitcher Jeff Fulchino became the first former Natural to play in Major League Baseball, throwing a scoreless inning in relief during a 6–3 Royals loss to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
In conjunction with Major League Baseball's restructuring of Minor League Baseball in 2021, the Naturals were organized into the Double-A Central.
Arvest Ballpark was designed by Populous out of its Kansas City, Missouri, office. It cost $33 million to build, while the rest of the $50 million approved by Springdale voters went toward road and infrastructure improvements.The stadium seats 6,500, but additional berm areas allow a maximum capacity of about 7,800.
7-day injured list
The Texas League was a Minor League Baseball league which operated in the South Central United States from 1902 to 2020. It was classified as a Double-A league. Despite the league's name, only its five South Division teams were actually based in the state of Texas in its final season; the five North Division teams were located in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. The league maintained its headquarters in Fort Worth.
Springdale is the fourth-largest city in Arkansas, United States. It is located in both Washington and Benton counties in Northwest Arkansas. Located on the Springfield Plateau deep in the Ozark Mountains, Springdale has long been an important industrial city for the region. In addition to several trucking companies, the city is home to the world headquarters of Tyson Foods, the world's largest meat producing company. Originally named Shiloh, the city changed its name to Springdale when applying for a post office in 1872. The four-county Northwest Arkansas Metropolitan Statistical Area is ranked 109th in terms of population in the United States with 463,204 in 2010 according to the United States Census Bureau. The city had a population of 69,797 at the 2010 Census.
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The Wichita Wranglers were a minor league baseball team based in Wichita, Kansas. The team, which played in the Texas League, was the Double-A affiliate of Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres from 1987 to 1994 and the Kansas City Royals from 1995 to 2007. The Wranglers played in Wichita's Lawrence–Dumont Stadium. Built in 1934 and renovated for the second time in 2001, the park held 6,400 people as of the Wranglers' last season.
Lawrence–Dumont Stadium was a baseball stadium in Wichita, Kansas, United States. It was located on the northwest corner of McLean Boulevard and Maple Street, along the west bank of the Arkansas River, in the Delano neighborhood of downtown Wichita. The stadium held 6,400 fans and was primarily used for baseball. The stadium most recently was the home field of the Wichita Wingnuts independent baseball team from 2008 until 2018, and was home to the annual National Baseball Congress World Series from 1935 until 2018.
Arvest Ballpark is a stadium in Springdale, Arkansas. It is primarily used for baseball, as the home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals of the Double-A Central. The ballpark has a capacity of 7,305 people and opened in 2008. Arvest Ballpark was designed by the Kansas City architecture firm Populous. Arvest Ballpark was named the 2008 Ballpark of the year by baseballparks.com
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Double-A is the second-highest level of play in Minor League Baseball in the United States since 1946, below only Triple-A. There are currently 30 teams classified at the Double-A level, one for each team in Major League Baseball, organized into three leagues: Double-A Central, Double-A Northeast, and Double-A South. As part of the 2021 reorganization of the minor leagues, the three current Double-A leagues replaced the Texas League, Eastern League, and Southern League, respectively.
Northwest Arkansas (NWA) is a metropolitan area and region in Arkansas within the Ozark Mountains. It includes four of the ten largest cities in the state: Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville, the surrounding towns of Benton and Washington counties, and adjacent rural Madison County, Arkansas. The United States Census Bureau-defined Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area includes 2,674 square miles (6,930 km2) and 525,032 residents, ranking NWA as the 105th most-populous metropolitan statistical area in the U.S. and the 22nd fastest growing in the United States.
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