CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Minor league baseball is coming to uptown Charlotte.
The Charlotte City Council voted 7-4 on Monday night to approve a financial plan that includes contributing $8 million to the Charlotte Knights new uptown ballpark.
The city’s contribution will be made up of $7.25 million from the “hotel-motel tax,” which, by law, can only be used for tourism-related projects. The other $750,000 will come from Center City Partners, who gets its money from uptown businesses. Both amounts would be paid over 20 years.
The team originally asked for $11 million from the city. It’s already getting $8 million from Mecklenburg County, plus land valued between $20 and $24 million.
Not every council member agreed with the vote for the to-be named BB&T Ballpark.
Beth Pickering did not think they could support the subsidy in these tough economic times. Pickering did not think the stadium was the best thing for that valuable land in the third ward.
"I can see sports bars popping up around it and I’m just not crazy about the idea of little sports bars popping up in uptown Charlotte,” she said.
The Knights, who currently play in Fort Mill, believe that an uptown stadium would help it double its annual attendance, to 600,000 people. In addition, the team believes stadium revenue would grow from $3.5-$4 million to $10-$12 million.
Several people spoke before the vote, including former Mayor Harvey Gantt, who expressed his desire for the uptown park.
“Allowing youth in our community to be a part of the fabric of what goes on inside baseball,” he said.
After the vote, Knights owner Don Bieber said he was glad the stadium was at last a done deal.
“I think everybody sees it as a good thing for the city," he said.
Under the deal with the city, the Knights will start playing ball in uptown by 2014.
The Knights recently unveiled a website to support the new ballpark here.