As planned, a clothing retailer has bought the former home of the Charlotte Knights (Class AAA; International League), Knights Stadium, and plans to tear down the ballpark to make way for a shipping center.
Cato Corporation bought the 32-acre site in Fort Mill, S.C., for $841,284, which covers the ballpark and surrounding parking. The company, which runs women’s clothing stores, plans to tear down the ballpark and combine the parcel with an adjoining one to create a new shipping center for the chain.
Knights Stadium opened in 1990 as the new home of what was then the Double-A Knights, replacing Crockett Park as home to baseball in the area. It was built to be expandable to Major League Baseball usage. Over the years the Knights found the suburban location to be a hindrance and worked with Charlotte to bring baseball back to the city proper this season with the opening of BB&T Ballpark in Uptown Charlotte.
Interestingly, the move of the Knights will ending up being a financial plus for Fort Mill: the land never generated property taxes for the city, but the shipping center will.
Most folks won’t be too upset to see Knights Stadium eventually torn down. Fort Mill wasn’t exactly easy to access from much of the Charlotte metro area — especially from the north — and it was an adequate, though hardly luxurious facility. It was was built big, both to meet International League rules of the day and to also serve as a base should Major League Baseball come to town. As a result, it wasn’t a place where there were many intimate vantages of the game, where a run to concessions could take awhile, and a very antiseptic atmosphere, despite efforts by the Knights to spruce up the game-day environment. Sure, there were a few funky touches, like the Alexander Julian-designed colors for the seating, but in the end the Knights figured a move back into Charlotte for the first time since 1988 would be the best long-term play for the franchise.
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