Yet another pitch for city funding in a proposed uptown Charlotte baseball stadium arrived Tuesday. This time, property tax revenue would be limited to an existing dedicated district, and the total city investment drops to $8 million.
Executives from city government and the Knights now recommend a combination of tourism taxes, totaling $7.25 million, and $750,000 from the tax district that funds Charlotte Center City Partners. The nonprofit economic-development and promotional agency receives $3.25 million from the tax, with an additional $1 million to $1.5 million coming from advertising and sponsorship revenue. Terms call for Center City Partners to contribute $164,000 for the stadium in 2015, followed by annual payments of $50,694 for 20 years.
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx is not a fan of the proposal. “I can’t say right now that I’m an enthusiastic supporter of this project,” he said.
City Council will vote on the stadium proposal June 11. The Knights already have a 49-year lease with Mecklenburg County for the 8-acre stadium site in Third Ward. That agreement calls for the team to pay $1 annually for the property. The county paid $24 million for the land; it will contribute an additional $8 million in grants to the Knights as repayment for improvements to the landscape and streets near the ballpark.
Total cost for the 10,000-capacity stadium is $54 million. Last month, BB&T Corp. reached an agreement to buy corporate naming rights at the stadium. Planned opening is in 2014. County terms require the Knights to secure funding for the stadium by June 30 and to start construction no later than Oct. 1.
Architects of the revised deal, including Democratic City Councilman James Mitchell, cite the removal of property taxes from the funding plan as cause for optimism. “It gets us close to getting the votes (for approval) but there are no guarantees,” says Mitchell, who chairs the council’s economic development committee.
Some council members signaled their opposition to the previous recommendation, which would’ve used $2.5 million in general property tax revenue anticipated from the addition of the stadium and related development. Instead, the city sought a contribution from an agency it helps fund, Center City Partners, and tapped the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority to increase the amount of tourism tax money used for the stadium.
The Charlotte Knights currently play in Fort Mill. Center City Partners began working on the uptown stadium plan in 2005. Lawsuits, the recession and other circumstances have derailed the ballpark project several times.