Faced with an uncertain economy, an expired financing deal and continuing legal challenges, the Charlotte Knights say they’ll wait until the fall to address a new ballpark.Faced with an uncertain economy, an expired financing deal and continuing legal challenges, the Charlotte Knights (Class AAA; International League) say they’ll wait until the fall to address a new ballpark, according to Knights employees and Charlotte city officials we’ve contacted.
Indeed, it’s been a perfect storm of events that’s sidetracked what many in Charlotte thought was a good plan: to bring the Knights Uptown with a privately financed ballpark. Instead, the project faced some immense roadblocks. First, the proceedings were delayed by multiple lawsuits from gadfly Jerry Reese, who claimed the funding of the land acquisition for a new ballpark by Mecklenberg County was unlawful; despite losing every single one he still is fighting the project on the appeals level. Reese’s stated motivation is that he prefers to see MLB in Charlotte — something we think is highly unlikely — but some in Charlotte whisper he’s really after the Knights and a new ballpark for himself.
Second, the team’s financing deal with Bank of America expired on January 31, and there are no plans in place for talks of a new one. Since the original financing deal was struck, the situation with the financial industries sector in Charlotte has changed: Bank of America is facing some financial issues and has required a government bailout, while Wachovia was taken over by Wells Fargo.
Third, the economy is certainly not conductive for any large-scale borrowing for something as speculative as a new ballpark.
So where does that leave the Knights? On hold until the fall, when some of these issues can be addressed.
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