Knights plan hotel, parking as uptown ballpark rises

Rendition of the BB&T Ballpark

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by ELIZABETH THOMAS & BEN THOMPSON

Bio | Follow: @BenTNews | Email

WCNC.com

Posted on February 27, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 28 at 8:25 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The BB&T Ballpark will officially open its doors in 406 days—or April 10, 2014.

Chris Semmens, vice president of sales for the Charlotte Knights, announced the grand opening date at a Charlotte Chamber of Commerce- Metro division event in Uptown on Wednesday.

"The substantial completion will be done December 31, 2013.  Those last couple months will be just the finishing touches; things like lights, suites, bathrooms, things like that," said Semmens.

The new home of the Charlotte Knights is nestled in Uptown’s 3rd Ward at the intersections of Mint, Martin Luther King, Graham and 4th Street.

(Click here to view renditions of the stadium and stages of the construction)

Officially, work on the ballpark began on September 20, 2012. The first milestone in the construction was the demolition of the old Virginia Paper Company building on the site October 2.

The stadium will seat approximately 10,200—all with spectacular views of the Charlotte skyline. The AAA stadium boasts a natural grass field, and is the second-ever LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Minor League ballpark.

Colleen Brannan, owner of Branstorm Public Relations said of the site, "It's exciting to see it go from a wasteland and a hole in the ground, to actually becoming a reality."

Semmens was particularly excited to announce two field level suites, just 45-feet away from home plate— putting those ticket holders even closer to home base and the hitter than the pitcher. The ballpark has a total of 23 box suites, 18 of which Semmens says are currently available for lease.

The club area offers 4,800 square feet of private viewing and entertainment, featuring a full bar. Most importantly, it is available for rent beyond just game days for private use such as weddings or corporate outings.

Aiming to provide affordable family entertainment, Semmens was pleased to announce that General Admission tickets will remain $9, as they’re currently priced at the Knights Stadium in Fort Mill. But it gets better: Berm seats, or lawn seats, will be available for $6. Box and Club level seats are $18 and $21, respectively.

"The model still needs to remain that this affordable for families to come to a game," said Semmens.

Not only will BB&T Ballpark serve as home to the Charlotte Knights, Semmens says the stadium will play host to concerts, festivals, high school and college sporting events and tournaments, making the ballpark a year-round entertainment venue, bringing even more recreational options to Center City for both visitors and residents alike.

Semmens says the Charlotte Knights estimate the ballpark will draw 650,000 fans in its first year-- a number he says is conservative.

Designed by Odell Associates, Inc., an architecture firm, and construction led by Rodgers Builders, both based out of Charlotte, the project boasts a track record of local economic stimulation and job creation. From start to finish, nearly every hand touching the project-- from financing to manufacturing, lives and works in the Charlotte area.

"Most of the subcontractors and manufacturers are CLT-based companies. So it's helping grow jobs here in Charlotte, and its helping grow our economy," said Semmens.

In 2014, BB&T Ballpark in Uptown is estimated to have an economic impact of more than $65 million, and is expected to add more than 700 jobs.

The site will also offer visitors a place to stay. A hotel, owned by the Charlotte Knights, is expected to have an inventory of approximately 125 rooms, and will feature underground parking.

Speaking of parking, Semmens says the team is negotiating a deal for 1000 spots at the adjacent Mint Street parking lot. He added that the lot itself actually has 1900 spots, but the terms of use for the additional 900 are still under discussion. Suite-level ticket holders will have parking included as part of their package. For all others, Semmens says the team is working to make sure the parking is reasonably priced-- $4 to $5, he says.

Season tickets are available for purchase now. But, Semmens says, current season ticket holders will have first pick. Contact the Knights sales office for more information.

And of course, those interested in adverting at BB&T Ballpark are also encouraged to contact the sales office.

BB&T is the naming sponsor for the ballpark, Piedmont Natural Gas is a funding sponsor and Carolina Healthcare System is the team’s official healthcare provider. Semmens credits all three with making the Knights’ move to Charlotte possible.

Moving to Uptown wasn’t an easy feat

Moving the team to Uptown wasn’t something that everyone supported. In past coverage, NBC Charlotte has spoken with residents who were concerned over things like noise levels, traffic and the addition of businesses like sports bars, and the things that come with it.

The stadium developers were also the target of numerous lawsuits.

A major hurdle for the team was the acquisition of public funding. In March of 2012, the team asked the Charlotte City Council for $11 million in taxpayer money to move the team to Uptown. In June, the City Council approved a plan that contributed $8 million to the project. The first $7.25 million came from the “hotel-motel tax”, which by law can only be used for tourism-related projects, while the additional $750,000 will come from Center City Partners. All $8 million will be paid out over the next 20 years.

In addition to city funding, the Charlotte Knights are getting $8 million from Mecklenburg County, plus land valued between $20 and $24 million.

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