Barring some unexpected circumstances, we should see a new Charlotte Knights (Class AAA; International League) ballpark in 2014 after the City Council approved an $8M contribution.
Last night the City Council voted 7-4 to contribute $8 million over 20 years toward a new Uptown ballpark — $7.25 in tourism taxes and $750,000 from Central City Partners. It wasn’t a surprise — several key council members had telegraphed their willingness to support this spending, even some Republican fiscal conservatives — and there never was an organized opposition to city funding. All in all, the Knights will be financing the majority of money needed for this project on their own: besides the city contribution, Mecklenburg County is contributing $8 million (mostly targeted for infrastructure improvements) and leasing the land for the project for $1 annually. The rest of the anticipated $54 million price tag will be financed and paid by the Knights.
The move culminates more than a decade of work by the Knights ownership to procure a new ballpark: on the very first day of Ballpark Digest publication on July 2, 2002, one of the first stories we covered detailed the effort by the Knights to convince the city to help fund a new facility.
The next step: arranging the rest of that financing. With naming rights already sold and sponsors onboard, the Knights are already off to a good start on that front. If all goes well, we should see a groundbreaking this fall and a 2014 opening.
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