CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte Knights have been swinging at it for years, and may finally get a hit with their plans for an uptown baseball stadium.
The Charlotte City Council is set to vote on a financial plan Monday that would include contributing $8 million to the ballpark, and at least two council members said Sunday they believe it will pass.
The city’s contribution would 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 would come from Center City Partners, who gets its money from uptown businesses. Both amounts would be paid over 20 years.
Michael Barnes and Claire Fallon said Sunday they plan to vote ‘no’ on the proposal.
Barnes said he believes the money could be better spent-–on amateur sports events, for instance--and that the Knights could get more sponsorships to fill the gap.
“They haven't made a profit since 1998 and it's not clear to me what they're going to do with our money other than cover their gap,” said Barnes.
Fallon called the expenditure “frivolous, unnecessary” and “not right for the times we’re living in.”
“It’s a disaster,” she said. “I wish I were wrong.”
She said the money could be better spent on Ovens Auditorium and Bojangle’s Coliseum, which regularly host events.
“The bottom line is this is taxpayer money, and we have no right to spend it this way,” said Fallon.
Barnes said he hasn’t heard much support from constituents in his University City district.
In SouthPark, people gathered at the Charlotte Symphony Summer Pops concert appeared to be more in favor of it.
“I think I would like it uptown,” said Margot Musch, who has two school-aged kids. She said she mostly attends little league games, but hasn’t gone to many Knights games because the stadium is so far from her south Charlotte home.
That thought was echoed by others at the concert.
“We go once in a while, but we would go more often if it were more convenient to me--which is uptown Charlotte,” said Sue Osterfelt.
Her friend Craig Brown agreed. “I’ve been waiting for uptown baseball for 15 years and it’s been stalled over and over and over again, so I'm hoping it actually takes place now.”
Elaine Morgan isn’t so sure the $8 million is a good investment.
“I'm pretty sure Charlotte-Mecklenburg could use that money elsewhere,” she said.
Barnes and Fallon said they’ve counted four votes against the stadium going into Monday’s meeting. They’ve also counted five votes for it, with two other members possibly changing positions from “against” to “for.”
The team would play ball in its new stadium in 2014 if the plan is approved.
City Council members also vote on a city budget Monday.