The Charlotte Knights baseball team updated the County Board’s Economic Development Committee Tuesday on the Knights progress in securing financing for its stadium project in Third Ward.
Knights General Manager Dan Rajkowski told the committee that the team is focusing on negotiating stadium naming rights and securing corporate sponsorships. Rajkowski says the climate for securing financing for $55 million stadium is still poor. He said since the partnership with the County began in 2007, the project has been stopped by several lawsuits and delayed because of the recession. He says those who were interested in financing the project four years ago, are not as interested today. The Knights are asking the County to approve an extension of their current agreement that set 2011 as the date for substantial construction on the stadium to begin. The Knights are asking for an extension to September 2012 in order to meet a construction schedule that would have the team playing in the stadium during the 2014 season.
Committee member Commissioner Karen Bentley said the project is a “no-brainer” as far as being an economic boost to Uptown Charlotte but she said her initial support was based on a private funding model and the Knight now appear to be looking for public/private funding. Bentley said she was disappointed that the Knights have not responded to numerous Board requests for financing details.
Commissioner Neil Cooksey is concerned about the number of days per year that the stadium would sit idle. The Knights would host 40 home games per year and they forecast that they will have other events 100 days per year. Cooksey feels that it might be better to have a park on that property that taxpayers can use 365 days a year.
Commissioner George Dunlap asked about any financial loss to Mecklenburg County since the property currently is controlled by the Knights. The County previously took in $10,000 to $20,000 per months in parking revenues at that site.
The Committee did not decide on a recommendation to the full Board but asked the Knights to come back to the committee in June with more details information about their efforts to secure financing.