The Gastonia Grizzlies (summer collegiate; Coastal Plain League) are working with the city on a proposed new ballpark that could be the hub of an entertainment district.
In 2016, the Grizzlies and owner Fans First Entertainment made progress toward a new $15 million ballpark in downtown Gastonia. If it moves forward as envisioned, the ballpark will not only serve as home to the Grizzlies, but will act as a host of non-baseball events.
Additionally, the facility would be built in the center of a larger redevelopment known as the Franklin Urban Sports and Entertainment District (FUSE). In October, the city voted to acquire 16 acres of downtown land to begin planning the complete project. Ever since, Grizzlies co-owner Jesse Cole has worked with the city to map out certain components of the ballpark. More from the Gaston Gazette:
Cole and city staff are planning FUSE. They’re finding inspiration in amusement parks, resorts and cruise ships.
“I compare it to Epcot [theme park],” Cole said.
FUSE will hold a multipurpose stadium for 5,000 baseball fans, 7,500 concert-goers and more for large events such as car shows. The balance of space will be used for multi-unit housing, offices, retail and restaurants. Cole, a 32-year-old Massachusetts native who played baseball at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, offers other possibilities, such as zip lines and train-themed seating, a nod to the adjacent mainline.
“It’s really going to be an entire district,” he said.
While FUSE will be rolled out in phases, officials believe that construction on the ballpark–if the terms of the proposal are finalized–could begin later this year. The Grizzlies currently play their games at Sims Legion Field.
Rendering courtesy of the City of Gastonia.