A new downtown ballpark for the Gastonia Grizzlies (summer collegiate; Coastal Plain League) could open for the 2020 season, according to project officials.
In Gastonia, officials have been mulling whether to proceed with the construction of a new ballpark as part of a larger development plan known as the Franklin Urban Sports and Entertainment (FUSE) District. Some financial details of the project must be finalized, but it is envisioned that the estimated $13.5-million facility would be an anchor for the area.
City officials presented more details on the plan during a meeting earlier this week, including a timeline. The preliminary schedule shows that, if the full project moves forward, site preparation would begin in late 2018 followed by the start of construction in 2019. If the plan sticks to that schedule, 2020 would be the Grizzlies’ first season at the new ballpark. More from The Gaston Gazette:
“This is a project to bring new investment into an area that has seen a lot of dis-investment over the years,” said Kristy Crisp, the city of Gastonia’s director of economic development and someone who has helped oversee the project.
Project architect Jonathan Cole of Pendulum Studio in Kansas City, Missouri, gave the 80 or so people in attendance an overview of the place city leaders hope will help spur private investment in an area now filled with vacant lots and a budget hotel. The city has already spent $4 million to buy 16 acres of land for the stadium and surrounding areas.
Cole spoke of a “Disney concept” of different “worlds” that would be connected in the stadium. One area of the park may welcome dogs, while another would have a barbecue restaurant. A pub or brewery would set up shop near where people would have a rock wall to climb. Artificial turf on the field would allow for car shows, while the entrance would be a center of public art connect to the city’s textile heritage. A “kid’s zone” also could be part of the park, along with a farmers market.
“They’re not complete thoughts yet, but just ideas,” Cole said.
If constructed, the new ballpark would replace Sims Legion Park as the home of the Grizzlies.
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