KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — Rumors of the Down East Wood Ducks leaving Kinston for a new location are just that, according to Kinston Mayor Don Hardy.

During a meeting held in Kinston Thursday night, Hardy spoke with WNCT’s Caitlin Richards about the future of the minor league baseball team. Rumors have been circulating recently that the team could leave for another city. Leland, N.C., and Spartanburg, S.C., have been mentioned in the past couple of months as a possible new home for the Carolina League team.

“Down East Wood Ducks are amazing. We hope to keep them here forever,” Hardy said Thursday night. “I don’t foresee them leaving at all, and I look forward to having them in our community for a long time. That’s where we are there.

“You may have heard a lot, but I can assure you that they love being here and we love having them here.”

Back in February, several media outlets, including WWAY, reported that a new proposed stadium was being built on 1,400 acres off Highway 17 next to Brunswick Forest. It would hold up to 4,000 people.

WWAY pointed to emails from the Town of Leland, where representatives from ‘Rev’ Entertainment and the Texas Rangers, the Major League Baseball team connected to the Wood Ducks, about the Leland site.

Wood Ducks General Manager Jon Clemmons said in an interview an independent league team would occupy the Leland location.

Patrick Johnson, host of “The Patrick Johnson Show” on 94.3 The Game, reported on May 9 that Diamond Baseball Holdings was planning on purchasing the Wood Ducks and moving the team to Spartanburg, SC.

“Diamond Baseball Holdings is planning on purchasing the Down East Wood Ducks from the Texas Rangers. Announcement is “imminent.” Confirms what was mentioned by HH this morning on Talk of the Town. Spartanburg, SC is the eventual destination for this club. Could happen as early as 2026. Reported all this on my afternoon show on @943TheGame.”

Down East has a lease with the City of Kinston and Grainger Stadium through 2031.