Armed with a study that predicted a tangible economic impact from a new Charlotte Knights (Class AAA; International League) ballpark, the City Council invited team management to pitch for city funding.
The Knights are looking at a $55-million ballpark in uptown Charlotte. Mecklenburg County has already pledged land and $8 million, with some conditions -- like ballpark construction beginning by October.
Charlotte officials were more skeptical of the ballpark proposal, saying they wanted evidence that a ballpark would make a positive economic impact. They received it in the form of a report from UNC-Charlotte professor John Connaughton, who said a new uptown ballpark would create 490 jobs annually (along with a couple-hundred construction jobs) and bring in a business doing between $10 million and $12 million annually. (Right now the team does around $4 million annually at Fort Mill, S.C. ballpark.) Part of that job estimate comes from having 600,000 or so fans making the trek annually to the new ballpark and partaking of expanded services.
After the presentation, city council members invited the Knights to make a pitch for city funding. While it doesn't look like there's much appetite for general-fund expenditures, there are other sources -- like hotel or hospitality taxes -- that could be tapped. Still, if the Knights do end up getting some city money for project, one thing is still clear: the majority of ballpark funding will come from the private sector, not from taxpayers.