City Counters With $9m For Knights
The Charlotte Knights asked the city to contribute $11 million toward a new stadium uptown. On Wednesday, city staff countered with an offer of $9 million and a plan to protect taxpayers if the stadium deal goes bad. Deputy Charlotte City Manager Ron Kimble told city council members repeatedly that the proposal "puts the risk on the Knights to perform." To protect the city from the risks of building a baseball stadium, Kimble says the Knights must agree to cover anything over the $54 million projected cost for construction. Second, he suggests the city not give the Knights a single penny until the stadium is built. Payments at that point would be spread over ten years and stop immediately if the team abandons Uptown. The third safeguard for taxpayers lies in where the city's $9 million contribution would come from. Half would be city hotel taxes earmarked for tourism projects. The other half would be property taxes paid by the Knights and new developments that spring up around the stadium. The Knights will basically have their city property taxes reimbursed, plus get a cut of what's paid on new apartments, shops and offices nearby. If all of those taxes don't add up to $4.5 million by the end of ten years, Kimble says the team will have to swallow the difference. "They hold the risk on this if the development doesn't happen as fast or as great," Kimble told the city council's economic development committee. Charlotte Knights owner Don Beaver acknowledged the plan puts a lot of risk on the team, but understands the city's need to protect itself and the taxpayers. "We know what we're doing in the project," added Beaver. "We've got our numbers together and we gotta talk to our bankers and make sure they go along with us and so far we're working closely with them." Mecklenburg County has already promised $8 million to the Knights and free use of land worth about $20 million. All told, the Charlotte Knights will have to borrow $41.5 million from private lenders to build the stadium. Some of that will be repaid by the city and county, but most will come from stadium sponsorships and suite sales. The Knights say they already have two long-term sponsors on board - including one for naming rights of the proposed stadium. The Charlotte City Council's economic development committee will meet at 1:30 p.m. on April 18 to decide whether to fund the stadium. A final decision must be made by the entire council. Click to view tweets with more details from the meeting.