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Charlotte Amateur Sports Developer Struggles In Other States

GoodSports_City_Slide.jpg
City of Charlotte

A more than $70 million amateur sports complex proposed in east Charlotte has new question marks. The Charlotte Observer has reported the developer, Goodsports, has lost its private financing and the project is on hold. The city denies the claim. WFAE’s Ben Bradford joined All Things Considered Host Mark Rumsey to make sense of it.

RUMSEY: This is one of the city’s big economic development projects both to draw amateur sports tournaments and to revitalize the area around Bojangles Arena. Could it be in jeopardy?

BRADFORD: This is a $70 million project, and the developer is expected to provide more than half of it. The Observer reports the company’s financing fell through, based off of e-mails it obtained between the developer, Goodsports, and the city. So, if the private financing were on hold, that would be a big deal. But city officials say the reporter misunderstood. The head of the city council economic development committee, Michael Barnes, says it’s still on track here.

BARNES: It’s not on hold. The project’s not on hold. They’re going through due diligence and making sure they’re crossing T’s and dotting I’s, which is what we’re going to do. Our job is to make sure that this deal is representative of what’s best for Charlotte.

BRADFORD: Barnes also points out the city hasn’t spent any funds on Goodsports—they’re still hammering out an agreement. But, the city has spent almost a year working toward that, and almost $4 million demolishing an Econo Lodge to make room for the project, as well as approving $12 million in renovations for Bojangles Coliseum—officials say it needs that no matter what, though.

RUMSEY: Does that mean reports are wrong, everything is fine?

BRADFORD: I wouldn’t say that. Goodsports only incorporated in 2013, and already has several of these amateur sports complexes in the works around the country, even though it’s not especially proven. And recently there have been multiple outlets reporting funding falling through, especially in Indiana and Ohio. On top of that, the company is facing a lawsuit for not paying a subcontractor in Florida. No one from Goodsports responded to a request for comment before I came on-air. But city official says the investor in the Charlotte project is still full-go, regardless of what’s happening at these other places.

RUMSEY: Is there a bottom line?

BRADFORD: The city says so far things are on-track here, but it’s always concerning when a company has problems with similar projects elsewhere.