With new owners taking over the Kannapolis Intimidators (Low A; Sally League), the Kannapolis City Council will take up to a year to decide whether to move forward on a new downtown ballpark.
A new ballpark was under discussion before Smith Family Baseball entered into an agreement to sell the Intimidators to an investment group led by Reese Smith III, as a downtown-redevelopment plan in the works could include a new ballpark. And while the new owners officially were approved to take over the lease, there was only a one-year commitment to keep the team in Kannapolis as part of that deal. From the Charlotte Business Journal:
City Manager Mike Legg views that as a deadline for City Council to decide to build a new stadium downtown….
The new contract with the Intimidators owners commits the city to paying up to $176,000 a year for maintenance and utilities at the current stadium. The Intimidators pay a $1-per-year lease payment.
Should the Intimidators turn a profit, the city and the new owners will split that half and half, according to the contract. The team has struggled to break even in recent years, despite a 10% increase in attendance during the 2015 season.
Intimidators Stadium was jointly built in 1995 by the Rowan County-Kannapolis Regional Sports Authority, attracting a team that relocated from Spartanburg, SC. The City acquired full ownership of the stadium in 2012. The stadium currently seats 4,700. Average per game attendance in 2015 was 2,056, with a total season attendance of 135,727 – a ten percent increase from 2014.
However, Intimidators Stadium suffers from a lack of available nearby land, meaning that it’s not really possible to be the core of any future development. And with downtown ballparks having a good track record as being part of future development — i.e., Fort Wayne — including a new ballpark as part of a larger downtown development has its appeal.
RELATED STORIES: Intimidators Sold to Reese Smith III; Kannapolis acquires 46 downtown acres; new ballpark next?; Kannapolis eyes new downtown Intimidators ballpark