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Economics of new Charlotte ballpark iffy: Mayor

Charlotte KnightsMayor Anthony Foxx threw some cold water on city funding of a new Charlotte Knights (Class AAA; International League) ballpark, saying any contribution to the project would be a hard sell.

UNC-Charlotte professor John Connaughton told the Charlotte City Council two weeks ago that a new uptown ballpark would create 490 jobs annually (along with a couple-hundred construction jobs) and bring in a business doing between $10 million and $12 million annually. Other economists questioned whether that impact would be sufficient enough for a city contribution between $8 million and $11 million for the ballpark, and today Foxx agreed with the naysayers, according to the Charlotte Business Journal:

“I’m not very encouraged to have a deadline imposed on me by external factors,” Foxx said. “When I take a look at things like this, I like to think about them from the standpoint of overall community benefit. And that has to be looked at through the lens of the fact that the city doesn’t have a capital program right now, the fact that we have enormous amounts of infrastructure that need to get built all across the city. I’m not so sure that a step like this, at the moment, is as good of an idea as it might have been in the heyday of the economy 15 years ago.”

The Knights are seeking to finance the $55-million project on their own; Mecklenburg County has already agreed to lease the uptown site for $1 annually and will pay the Knights $8 million for infrastructure improvements if the meets a series of conditions, including a 2012 start to construction.

RELATED STORIES: Economic of new Charlotte ballpark questioned; Knights make economic case for city funding of new ballpark; Charlotte may help fund new Knights ballpark; More legal silliness in Charlotte; Back from the dead! Mecklenburg Co. moves forward with Knights ballpark; Rising from the ashes: A new Knights ballpark


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