GASTONIA, N.C. — The company behind the Gastonia Honey Hunters baseball team has officially filed for bankruptcy. The filing stalls Gastonia’s plans to take the team to court over unpaid debt.
According to a court filing obtained by Channel 9 on Tuesday, NC Gas House Gang LLC filed for bankruptcy protection in Maryland. The LLC is the company that owns the Honey Hunters.
Last month, Channel 9 learned the Honey Hunters had been forced out of the Atlantic League. In a lawsuit, the City of Gastonia said it wanted the court to force the team out of their stadium over its unpaid debts.
Court documents obtained by Channel 9 this week show that the team owes the city thousands of dollars for naming rights and utility bills.
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The unknown future of the the Honey Hunters stadium is putting local businesses on alert. Some operators called the stadium the crown jewel of Gastonia. City leaders told Channel 9′s Ken Lemon it anchors a district that has seen about $100 million in new investments.
Now that the operators of the stadium are bankrupt, the city wants a new team. But the bankruptcy filing means they have been blocked for now.
The team has a long list of creditors that it owes money to, with a balance of liabilities adding up to $4.08 million, according to bankruptcy filings.
The largest debt is to BKK Sports for $1.1 million, but the team also owes the Atlantic League a little over $291,000.
According to court filings, the team also owes the North Carolina Department of Revenue $140,000 in back taxes and the Internal Revenue Service another $126,402 in federal back taxes.
The bankruptcy filing also shines a light on the team’s operating expenses. According to the court documents, the team lost $704,610 in 2021 and lost another $478,617 in 2022. From January until October of this year, the team had already lost $299,652.
The team actually brought in significantly more revenue between 2021 and 2022, going from about $2.03 million to $2.83 million; but expenses also rose significantly, specifically in food and beverage operations.
How we got here
Business operators told Lemon this is so much more than a game. Timothy Caudill is the manager of Cavendish Brewery, which is just blocks from the stadium.
“They, we, and Gastonia deserves a little better than what happened,” Caudill told Lemon.
The team’s money problems frustrate him.
“There’s a lot of confusion about what’s going on,” he said.
Over the summer, police stopped working games because the team didn’t pay the off-duty officers. Then, Lemon learned the team also owed money to paramedics and even to players.
Last month, the Atlantic League kicked the Honey Hunters out of the league for failing to pay dues. Then, the city sued to kick the team out of the stadium.
Richard Cogdill is the manager of R.O.’s Bar-B-Cue restaurant. He said business is up about 25% on game day.
“Hopefully they’ll get somebody else in there and just keep going,” he told Lemon.
It worries Cogdill that the team has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
“It’s brought growth here,” he said. “People starting to build houses on this side.”
He said home prices have almost tripled for property near the stadium, but he fears that could change if there is no one to manage the ballpark.
The team’s chief operating officer sent a statement to Lemon saying the team is “filing for reorganization in order to continue our operations. We remain committed to providing family-friendly and affordable entertainment in the region.”
City leaders apparently don’t trust them to do that because they want a new team moved in as soon as possible. It’s not clear when they resume efforts to get that done.
Channel 9 has previously reached out to the Honey Hunters for comment, but the team’s representatives say they won’t comment on legal affairs.
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