In conjunction with city officials, the Gastonia Grizzlies (summer collegiate; Coastal Plain League) are continuing to pitch a new ballpark as part of a downtown development.
The plan that is still up for discussion has been billed as the Franklin Urban Sports and Entertainment District (FUSE). Within FUSE would be a new facility for the Grizzlies, as well as other amenities that officials hope will help to make the area a year-round destination.
Last October the city voted to move forward with nearly $4 million in funding to acquire 16 acres of downtown land for FUSE, but it continues to work with the Grizzlies on the terms of the plan. Grizzlies owner Jesse Cole and city manager Ed Munn were among those on hand for a presentation to Gastonia business leaders on Tuesday, and both explained how they envision the ballpark and FUSE at large accommodating more than just baseball. More from The Gaston Gazette:
But the stadium’s field could be a centerpiece surrounding by retail space and restaurants, kids activities and adult recreation leagues, music concerts, food truck festivals and more, city boosters of the plan say.
“This particular FUSE project, linked with what’s going on downtown and what’s going on down at Loray is going to revolutionize this city and change this city like you’ve never seen before,” Munn told the business leaders.
Cole compared the FUSE District plans to Walt Disney’s dream in Florida of creating EPCOT, which he said stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.
“It’s crazy, but that’s what will make it work,” Cole insisted.
The plan has called for the ballpark to be owned by the City of Gastonia and leased by the Grizzlies under a long-term agreement. The Grizzlies currently play at Sims Legions Field, which hosted several of the city’s bygone minor league teams in the years leading up the Grizzlies’ arrival in 2002.
Rendering courtesy City of Gastonia.