While it appears there is broad political support in Fayetteville for a new ballpark to house a Houston Astros-owned Carolina League team, a much bigger issue looms: The cost of the new facility.
A report prepared by Barrett Sports Group, Populous and Hunt Construction Group, and presented to the City Council Monday night identified two potential ballpark sites: the developer-led Prince Charles Hotel site and the city’s preferred site on the southern end of Murchison Road. While the Murchison Road site was the earlier favorite, the report’s authors are recommending the Prince Charles Hotel site: work could start immediately, while the Murchison Road site could be delayed for up to five years because of state work on a nearby bridge. The cost of the Prince Charles Hotel ballpark would be slightly higher — $46.9 million, versus $43.8 million for the Murchison Road site. The report envisions a 5,000-capacity ballpark with 10 luxury suites and a club level with seating for 150.
That led to a discussion of whether a new ballpark could be built at a lower cost — say, the $23.8 million it cost to build Pensacola’s Blue Wahoos Stadium. And that discussion has carried through to today’s work session and may affect next Monday’s City Council meeting, where the ballpark is expected to be back on the agenda. From the Fayetteville Observer:
Councilmen Bill Crisp and Ted Mohn said the $40-million-plus price is far too high for them to support.
“I don’t think this blue-collar neighborhood is ready to build a 43- or 46-million-dollar stadium,” Crisp said.
Mohn echoed Crisp.
“That’s just too much money,” Mohn said.
Crisp said he could accept a $28 million price.
That’s pretty good new for baseball fans in Fayetteville; Crisp was pretty outspoken about a high price tag diminishing his support for a new ballpark. Now comes the hard part: putting together a funding plan that will please everyone.
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