Updated: 5:59 a.m. Wednesday, March 23, 2011 | Posted: 8:31 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Possible Knights Stadium In Uptown Hits A Snag
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
The Charlotte Knights are back on track, trying to build a minor league ballpark Uptown, but they face another hurdle.
The process has taken so long, they could lose the chance. They were supposed to build the stadium, or most of it, by September. But that won't happen. Attorney Jerry Reese kept suing to stop the deal. He never won, but ate up so many years that the Knights can't possibly build the stadium in the next six months like they're supposed to.
"We thought we bought ourselves enough time. What we didn't know was how lengthy lawsuits would take over a number of years," Knights general manager Dan Rajkowski said.
So county leaders could play hardball, ditch the Knights and find someone else to lease the valuable property. But they want to work with the team and will probably extend the deadline. They just ask that the Knights give them updates, tell them how much money the team raises, so they're not holding the valuable land for nothing.
Mecklenburg County commissioner Neil Cooksey spoke for many commissioners when he spoke about extending the deadline. "They're really going to have to give us something real before we agree to extend this deadline," he said.
Reese said if the county gives the Knights more time, he's heading back to court. So far, county leaders say his lawsuits have cost taxpayers $400,000. "Any amendment to that lease will be challenged. That is an absolute promise," he said.
Once the Knights get everything lined up, they say it will take 18 to 22 months to build the ballpark. They plan to raise the money to build the ballpark privately. They expect it to cost $54 million, up from 2005, but down from just a few years ago.