A North Carolina commission is allowing High Point to seek bonds for a new downtown ballpark, meaning the city is now permitted to borrow up to $38 million.
In its discussions to build a new ballpark as part of a larger downtown development proposal, the City of High Point has been looking to wrap up its funding plan. Through a vote in October, the High Point City Council opted to move forward with a “Plan B” funding model that called for the city to borrow for the project and pay off the related debt on its own. That came a month after Guilford County, opted to hold off for 60 to 90 days on making any decisions regarding the county’s funding participation in the project
City officials have been pushing to have the new ballpark open for an independent Atlantic League team by the 2019 season, but the funding mechanism required the approval of the North Carolina General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Government Commission. In its decision on Tuesday, the commission voted unanimously to allow the city to proceed with its plan. More from the Winston Salem-Journal:
High Point city officials have said they can repay the money without raising taxes.
“It is a terrific day for the city of High Point,” [High Point University President Nido] Qubein said. “It proves that this community believes in the art of the possible in spite of the obstacles along the way.”
He said he will soon be announcing the members of the executive board that will manage the design, construction and funding of the event center, children’s museum, educational cinema, park and interactive playground that will be built by the stadium.
“I think we’ve only just begun,” Qubein said. “Look for announcements and positive proclamations over the next few months.”
For the larger redevelopment plan, a group led by High Point University president Nido Qubein has raised $50 million in pledges, with those funds intended for the purchase of a franchise and construction of surrounding amenities. There has also been discussion about the potential construction of a hotel and apartments.
The ballpark will house a team owned by owners of the former Bridgeport Bluefish. With Bridgeport’s Ballpark at Harbor Yard slated to be converted into an amphitheater, the Bluefish are being replaced by a Road Warriors entry on the Atlantic League’s 2018 schedule.
The state commission’s vote marks the latest step for the High Point ballpark effort. Last week, the process of demolishing existing downtown buildings around the site began.
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