The Charlotte Knights are asking for $11 million in city tax money to build their ballpark uptown. But, they say, the city will make that back 30 fold.
They say to look at places like Greenville, S.C. So Eyewitness News reporter Jason Stoogenke went to Greenville on Friday.
Greenville calls the area where the ballpark is The West End. Everyone Eyewitness News spoke with said, seven years ago, you didn't go there unless you had to.
"It was nasty,” Kimberly Saunders said.
Annette Duncan added: "Nasty."
They do go to the area now, even Friday, a day when the team didn't have a game.
"It was visionary. People that put it together and decided to make the investment, and it's been awesome,” Saunders said.
Duncan added: "It has been awesome."
In 2006, the minor league baseball team, the Greenville Drive, turned a lumber yard in The West End into a ballpark, Fluor Field. One thing led to another. The team's senior vice president, Nate Lipscomb, pointed out the new development and former eyesores that have new life.
"The condominiums here are brand new, the retail space, the commercial space,” he said.
City economic development officials gave specific numbers. They count 110 new businesses and 242 building permits within a half-mile of the ballpark since it opened. People there notice.
"It’s bringing business into downtown like crazy,” Marquette Kelly said.
Just to compare, the Greenville Drive is Single A, spent $15 million on its ballpark (all private money) and saw $91.5 million in economic development so far. The Charlotte Knights are Triple A, planning a $54 million ballpark ($35 million in private money) and expecting $300-$400 million in development.
The city will consider the Knights' request April 4.