A new downtown master plan calls for a new Kannapolis Intimidators (Low A; Sally League) ballpark on one end and a new performing-arts center on the other end, in a study directed by the Development Finance Initiative.
The goal is to increase foot traffic in downtown Kannapolis while also attracting residents. The new plan shifts the ballpark to the corner of corner of W. First and Oak Avenue, putting two destinations at each end of downtown. From the Independent Tribune:
By having the stadium on the north end of town, it puts the complex near established properties, such as the Gem Theatre, which can help spark interest in renovating properties closest to the complex.
“It maximizes the value of the historic downtown core,” Audette-Bauman said.
Moving the stadium, that also frees up the Plant 4 site for other development. The Plant 4 site looks to be used to develop mainly residential units, such as apartments and condos, with some retail space. Audette-Bauman said it would be primarily residential with some small retail space mixed in.
“The type of retail we expect there would be more of a ‘neighborhood type’ retail, so instead of having a whole street with retail store fronts, maybe you just have one or two at the corners,” Audette-Bauman said. “Kind of like a traditional neighborhood where you have a couple of small shops that folks in the neighborhood can walk to.”
The talk about a new downtown ballpark is a realization that Intimidators Stadium is a limited, dead-end facility. It was jointly built in 1995 by the Rowan County-Kannapolis Regional Sports Authority, attracting a team that relocated from Spartanburg, S.C. The city acquired full ownership of the ballpark 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.
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