by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
The Charlotte Knights are playing ball for the first time Friday in uptown Charlotte and it's been a battle the team fought for years that included politics, lawsuits and the recession.
Action 9’s Jason Stoogenke covered the ups and downs that lasted eight years.
In 2005, the Charlotte Knights wanted to move uptown.
SPECIAL SECTION: Charlotte Knights
"We've kind of got this crazy idea. It's a land swap," said Michael Smith with Charlotte Center City Partners
IN 2007, he helped engineer a land swap when four groups traded land uptown to assemble the property for a new ballpark.
It looked like a done deal but Jerry Reese sued to stop the deal seven times.
He claimed Charlotte should hold out for a major league team but others suspected he had more selfish motives.
He lost all seven lawsuits and that was a victory Friday for people trying to bring baseball to uptown Charlotte but construction costs went from roughly $14 million to $54 million.
That was when the Knights turned to the city and county for help and that sparked the usual fight over tax dollars for sports venues.
The city and county pitched in $16 million combined and broke ground in September of 2012.
The city of Charlotte plans to take a closer look at the Knights' $11 million request in a few weeks.
And now, on opening day, Smith said, “It’s an amazing moment for us, for Charlotte."
The Knights signed a 49-year lease with two 25-year options to extend.
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