BB&T Ballpark opens April 11, so what does it mean for Charlotte? | CLT Blog

BB&T Ballpark opens April 11, so what does it mean for Charlotte?

Posted on 14 Feb 2014 by Michael Hollis

When I moved to Charlotte in 1994 there were exactly zero professional sports teams in the downtown area. Now there are 4: Panthers, Bobcats, Knights, and Charlotte Hounds Lacrosse.

With the season kicking off in less than two months, I wanted to take a look at what Uptown’s newest addition, BB& T Ballpark, means for the Knights and for Charlotte as a whole. For starters, it means more money all around. The new stadium brings the addition of at least 70 new events (regular season home games) to Uptown, with the potential to draw 10,000 patrons to the park on a given night. The dollar amount on the economic impact that draw will have on Uptown is large to say the least.

The club has done little to promote the move outside of press coverage and a logo change, yet ticket sales and sponsorships are way up. Club seats are sold out for the entire season. I know that’s hard to believe for anyone that visited Knight’s Stadium over the past few years.

Tickets are still dirt cheap, starting at $8, the same as a high school football game, and every seat offers a great view and a much more intimate experience than you get next door or down the road (Bank of America Stadium & Time Warner Cable Arena).

Believe me when I say restaurant owners, parking garages, vendors, and even home owners in the Uptown area are smiling with anticipation. And the city of Charlotte is ecstatic to be able to offer its young professionals something to do Uptown outside of the bar scene. Not to mention the bars are happy to have their best customers around more frequently. If you are a sports fan, the move to Uptown makes the games more accessible. If you aren’t, you’re still more likely to attend a game with the stadium smack dab in the middle of the city.

Just to drive my point home: the estimated population density in the area surrounding the old Knight’s Stadium = 662/sq. mile (2012) ; BB& T Ballpark = 2,440/sq. mile (2010). Housing values, specifically on the revitalized north end of Uptown, will go up. You will see new bars and restaurants (and hopefully some rebuilding of run down, established restaurants) in that area. Your average weeknight at the Epicenter still won’t be crazy crowded, but you should see a little more action on game nights. That’s right, the new stadium even benefits party-goers.

I’m not saying people are chomping at the bit to pack inside the stadium every night, but I think we all can at least be excited to have something else to do downtown.

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  1. Wiley Coyote 19 Feb 2014 at 12:11 AM

    Taxpayers were hosed $62 million to give to Richardson or he thinly veiled a threat to leave Charlotte — which is fine with me — and then he turns around and gives UNCC $10 million.

    Taxpayers were also run over after voting down a new arena, but city leaders “know better” because we taxpayers are stupid and can’t make our own decisions.

    Taxpayer got hosed again by the NASCAR HOF (losing money daily) and Whitewater Center (still owe us $7 million).

    Now add the downtown ballpark.

    People who want these venues should pay for them with user fees and not keep sucking taxpayers dry.

    • Avatar of Michael Hollis
      Michael Hollis 19 Feb 2014 at 1:13 AM

      Wiley, I can understand where you’re coming from but I would argue that these venues and upgrades were in the best interests of the city. After all, each of these were voted on and approved. While you may be fine with the Panthers leaving town I know a lot of people feel the opposite and the team leaving would be a big ding to the local economy. When you refer to taxpayers getting hosed I see where you’re coming from but these projects aren’t being funded by a hike in your income tax or sales tax. It comes from the tourism tax on hotels/restaurants so the actual tax increase that you feel is insignificant. I remember reading something about the actual dollar amount the increase in tax would impact each family in the county was like $10/yr. The Nascar HOF was a gamble at best and it actually kind of sucks on top of losing money. It was a poor use of taxpayer money but again, it was voted on and approved like all the rest. And when you talk about city officials “knowing better”, they are only acting on your behalf. They are after all elected officials, otherwise known as representatives. The new BB&T Ballpark was something like $60M to build, but it will easily add that dollar amount to the city’s economy on a semi-annual basis. I’m with you in that I think the government should stay out of business but I also realize that without government funding these projects just don’t happen. And.. the biggest thing you failed to point out, is that the city and it’s residents benefits greatly from all of these projects.

      I’m not actually for or against you I just wanted to present a counter argument. I’m glad to see someone has an opinion on the matter. Thanks for contributing and I hope you will take advantage of the new ballpark the city splurged on by attending a game.

      • The par 19 Feb 2014 at 9:47 PM

        I believe the BB&T Park downtown is a great idea. I totally agree with you on the NASCAR HOF. A total waste of money.

  2. Ed Zachary 19 Feb 2014 at 7:37 AM

    Just another money pit for the taxpayers to fill. Can you say “City Fair”?
    And more gridlock for people who work uptown.

    • rumbrave 24 Feb 2014 at 3:43 PM

      What does a ballpark have to do with City Fair? You’re so stuck on a failed project from almost 20 years ago that you gloss over the successful projects since, and lump any public amenity built uptown into the same category? $60m on this ballpark does not make it a “money pit” when its profitability and economic impact on the area is pretty much assured. Don’t get me started on the absurd notion that we should stop building anything since it may increase traffic…

  3. Brent Gilroy 19 Feb 2014 at 7:39 AM

    You forgot the Checkers on the list of downtown teams. Attended our first game in November and had a great time. Hockey’s equivalent of AAA baseball — as high as you can get without being in the majors.

  4. The par 19 Feb 2014 at 7:47 AM

    Good addition to the downtown area. I agree with the above comments on the NASCAR HOF was a big mistake.

  5. Wiley Coyote 19 Feb 2014 at 8:34 AM

    ****It comes from the tourism tax on hotels/restaurants so the actual tax increase that you feel is insignificant.****

    Some would say the extra Federal taxes I’ve had to pay each year for the past 5 years (between $1500 and $4000, depending on the year) is an insignificant amount, even though I have extra taken out of my paycheck to try and just break even.

    A tax is a tax is a tax and who are you to decide whether it’s an “insignificant amount”? Throw in all the backroom land swaps, infrastructure concessions and excuses like “it will help the local economy” is the standard defense argument.

    *******N.C. poll: 88% oppose state money for Panthers stadium***** (translated, that’s tax dollars)

    I get your point, but again, considering only 7% of the local population can attend eight or so Panther games, the ROI for Richardson is huge while the rest of us pay for it. The new NFL TV contract automatically put additional millions in Richardson’s bank account. It sure didn’t go to taxpayers who paid him the $62 million to refurbish HIS stadium.

    What is it Richardson pays per year for the next 100 years to lease the land his stadium sits on? $1.00.

    From Forbes: WASHINGTON, DCMARCH 11:

    Carolina Panthers Get Third-Richest Taxpayer Gift In NFL History

    The Carolina Panthers haven’t done much on the gridiron to make their fans proud since entering the NFL in 1996, posting only four winning seasons.

    But Charlotte’s politicians still adore the team so much that they recently agreed to give owner Jerry Richardson $87.5 million from taxpayers to renovate his 17-year old, privately-owned Bank of America Stadium. As part of the deal Richardson agreed to keep the team in Charlotte for at least six years. That works out to $14.6 million a season–the third most lucrative subsidy in the history of football.

    The Panthers are worth $1 Billion dollars (NFL rank for worth is 18). How much of that do taxpayers get if they are sold or move in six years?

    • Avatar of Michael Hollis
      Michael Hollis 19 Feb 2014 at 10:20 AM

      I didn’t mean to belittle you when I used the word insignificant, I was just pointing out that the actual dollar amount that each household feels is not large. It sucks to have someone reach in your wallet and take as they wish, and I know first hand Meck County can be greedy when it comes to taxing its residents… Property taxes: many in my neighborhood fought the “assumed” value of their homes for which they were being taxed for years.. with no results. Then last year, all the sudden it comes to the surface that thousands of households in the county were being overtaxed because of made-up valuations.

      And I remember reading that article when it was published. Not that it’s misleading, but win totals don’t necessarily dictate financial success and certainly don’t do justice to the economic development that has taken place with the team in town. I’m not going to pretend to know the metrics used in reaching this number, but the study that was cited in the Observer when trying to determine the economic impact on the city put the number at over $600M annually. That’s a big number.

      And the “it will help the local economy” justification argument.. it’s just true. Business owners in Charlotte benefit greatly from having the team in town and it makes the city more attractive to prospective residents/companies looking to relocate.

      And wins have nothing to do with economic development, which is the point I was making in the article. I stayed away from sports story lines and focused strictly on the financial impact the new ballpark will have on our city.

      Just curious Wiley, are you a sports fan?

  6. Chipper 19 Feb 2014 at 9:18 PM

    I visited the Knights’ website and I do not see anywhere to buy single game tickets. What’s up with that?

    • Avatar of Michael Hollis
      Michael Hollis 19 Feb 2014 at 9:52 PM

      They haven’t yet opened single game tickets to the public.. They’re still hoping to sell more season tickets and game packages first. They should go on sale soon. It does seem a little strange at this point though I will agree.

  7. Deac 19 Feb 2014 at 10:03 PM

    Chipper’s question is absolutely on target. Where are the single game tickets? Minor League baseball was pitched as friendly to the family wallet but it’s a sign to me that the cost of attendance at the new park is not going to be minor league at all. I prefer a cheap ticket, cheap beer and hot dogs at a park like Kannapolis.

    • Avatar of Michael Hollis
      Michael Hollis 19 Feb 2014 at 10:19 PM

      Believe me the team isn’t holding out on offering tickets, but they’re not the Panthers and they don’t sell out the minute tickets go on sale. By waiting to open single game ticket sales they keep seats open for season ticket buyers just a little bit longer. You’ll get your seats I guarantee you, and they won’t be expensive either. Respond with your contact info and I’ll have someone give you a call about purchasing tickets for whatever games you’re interested in.

      Tickets are still cheap, starting at 8 bucks going up to 15 for “premium seats” and concessions are still going to be much cheaper than a Panthers or Bobcats game. Don’t know if they’ll continue the dollar beer night because they haven’t released their promotions for the season yet (they usually wait to release promotions until the season is near because the promos help to sell tickets, especially for those games that aren’t sold out already). From what I’ve seen, the cost of attending a game should be exactly the same as last year. Have been increased $2 from last season which, if you ask me, is reasonable considering the improved offering this season.