The current Bridgeport Bluefish (independent; Atlantic League) could be playing at a new High Point ballpark by 2019, with the facility anchoring a larger downtown development plan. That is according to details released on Wednesday, when project backers announced that they have raised $50 million.
Earlier this year, it was revealed High Point University president Nido Qubein would lead a group that was seeking to raise $38 million for a downtown High Point redevelopment plan that included a new ballpark. During an announcement on Wednesday, Qubein revealed that $50 million had been raised, and revealed some other crucial details.
Bluefish owner Frank Boulton has said he will move the team to the ballpark, provided that it is built, and could do so as early as 2019. Meanwhile, BB&T has agreed to become the ballpark’s naming rights partner. Mixed-use development could also a part of the project, including apartment units from Blue Ridge Companies and a hotel from The Carroll Companies. The $50 million raised would be allocated toward a park, event center, and children’s museum.
As part of the plan, the City of High Point has pledged $15 million for land acquisition. It is also expected that the city will borrow another $30 million for the ballpark’s construction.
The city’s participation in the project will require the approval of Guilford County Commissioners, and Qubein urged officials to allow the plan to proceed. More from the Greensboro News & Record:
The city wants the county to forgo any new tax revenue generated by new development in a 649-acre zone around the stadium. The city wants to use that money to repay the loan over 20 years.
The project’s boosters have said the county risks nothing because the plan guarantees that Guilford County will continue to get as much tax revenue as it already receives. If the project fails, they say High Point leaders — not county commissioners — will have to figure out how to repay the loan.
But commissioners said recently that the plan hasn’t been properly vetted by the county or the public. High Point leaders asked commissioners to approve the plan tonight. Instead, commissioners are expected to schedule a public hearing for Sept. 21.
At least six county commissioners were in the audience Wednesday, and Qubein directed large chunks of his scripted remarks to reluctant commissioners and other project naysayers.
High Point, Qubein said, has no choice but to take a bold step forward amid a citywide decline in the tax base and the deterioration of its downtown.
High Point is close to two affiliated minor league markets––it is less than 20 miles from Greensboro and about 25 from Winston-Salem. The area is also the current home of the High Point-Thomasville HighToms (summer collegiate; Coastal Plain League), who play at historic Finch Field.
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