With the Fayetteville City Council increasingly committed to a new ballpark for a High-A Carolina League team, the emerging issue is not whether the ballpark should be built — it’s how much the new ballpark should cost.
Using Spirit Communications Park, home of the Columbia Fireflies (Low A; Sally League), as a template, the city council asked the three consulting companies (Barrett Sports Group, Hunt Construction Group, Populous) that had determined the market’s feasibility to look at the costs of replicating that experience in Fayetteville. It’s a pretty good template: the $37 million, 6,410-seat stadium opened in April to wide acclaim both as a baseball facility and as a potential economic-development generator.
The verdict: Building the same sort of ballpark as Spirit Communications Park in Fayetteville would cost $46.9 million, an increase partly due to inflation and partly due to landscaping and utilities costs not found in Columbia.
That information is useful, as the city will be negotiating a lease with the Houston Astros to bring a relocating California League team to Fayetteville. There is an August 19 deadline to draft a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Astros that would cover a lease and potentially capital costs. So coming up with a budget, along with a rough ballpark design, would be needed before those talks are concluded.
Also needed is perhaps the most important part of the puzzle: how to pay for the ballpark. From the Fayetteville Observer:
Councilman Larry Wright, who is on the committee, said a cost of between $40 million and $45 million seemed reasonable. He asked if the city has figured out where the money would come from and who else, besides city taxpayers, would contribute to the cost.
The committee has formed a finance subcommittee to help answer that question and how much new debt the city could afford without raising taxes….
The committee continued to ask for additional information before agreeing to give the three consultants additional work for further development of the stadium’s design, costs, site master plan and the drafting of a memorandum of understanding with the Astros. Hewett said he hopes to get the committee’s feedback by the end of this week.
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