GASTONIA, N.C. — The Gastonia Honey Hunters baseball team owes the city and Gaston County more than $100,000, and the team said the debt will be paid off Wednesday.
The team is late on its payments to the Gastonia Police Department and Gaston Emergency Medical Services who work the ballgames, Channel 9′s Ken Lemon learned. As a result, the police department announced Wednesday it will not provide the team with off-duty officers for security until they get paid.
Paramedics will still be at the games even though they will be getting paid late.
News of the Honey Hunters’ financial struggles was first reported by Indy Ball Nation.
Channel 9 first reported Tuesday that the Gastonia Honey Hunters were struggling financially. Players protested on July 21, refusing to take the field until their payment issues were resolved. Now, the team is now working with the Atlantic League to ensure players are paid.
City Councilman Robert Kellogg said he wouldn’t go to a game where police aren’t present.
“Public safety needs to be addressed,” Kellogg said. “I would not feel safe going to a facility that can house hundreds of people if there is no police presence.”
He said if city officials aren’t demanding answers, then maybe they are enabling the problem.
Kellogg wants the owner to come to the city council and answer questions.
“As an elected official and as people who love the city, we have to say to ourselves, at what point, once we start to learn these things, are we enabling instead of just saying it needs to come to a resolution?” Kellogg said.
Officials with the city of Gastonia said the team owes them $50,000 in management commissions and $30,808 for this year’s lease of the stadium.
The team also owes the county $22,150 in payments to the paramedics.
The team’s chief operating officer said she was extremely apologetic and will pay everything the team owes, including the off-duty officers who patrol home games and help with traffic.
COO Veronica Jeon said they have had money issues since the team took the field for the first time in 2021.
“I do lose a lot of sleep over it and I apologize on behalf of the organization,” said Jeon, COO of Gastonia Honey Hunters.
The solution is to add more events, such as the one Cheryl Littlejohn has planned for this weekend, Jeon said.
Littlejohn rented the facility for a fundraising concert and changed her contract to reassure stadium workers.
“Smith’s Soul Food Bistro is paying all ushers, police, and everybody that’s involved,” said Littlejohn
Jeon said last year they had 230 events in addition to the 70 home games and she is working to add more events to make up for the loss in revenue.
The next home game is Tuesday.
Jeon said she will pay the police by then so they can return to working the games next week.
Statement by the city of Gastonia:
“Gastonia Police Department officers have worked off-duty in the past directly for the team. The Gastonia Police Department will not authorize off-duty officers to work for team-sponsored events at the stadium until the team pays the individual officers money owed for past work.
“The Honey Hunters organization currently owes the City of Gastonia $35,808 for the current year’s lease, $50,000 in management commissions, and $2,230.75 for a cost overrun when a mobile stage was purchased for the stadium.”
(WATCH BELOW: Gastonia Honey Hunters kick off inaugural opening weekend)
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