Kannapolis votes to proceed with phase 2 of ballpark study

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 24, 2015

By Susan Shinn

For the Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS — In a rare, narrow vote, City Council voted 4-3 on Monday to proceed with phase 2 of the ballpark planning study to determine whether to locate a baseball stadium in Downtown Kannapolis.

Jason Thompson of Brailsford & Dunlavey, who is based in Detroit, said that a stadium downtown could attract more than 390,000 fans per year. Currently, attendance is about 125,811 at the existing stadium. On Monday, council members made it clear they do not want to put any more money into stadium upgrades. The city is in year four of a five-year contract with the Kannapolis Intimidators.

Thompson’s presentation took 20 minutes, but council discussed the matter for roughly another 45 minutes before coming to a decision.

Although there was no motion expected, Councilwoman Dianne Berry raised the issue of putting off proceeding with the study until after three public hearings on the downtown purchase are completed. This triggered a request for a motion by City Manager Mike Legg, to make clear the direction of staff by council.

However, Legg noted that the three hearings will be complete by April 20, and council will not receive the phase 2 findings for another six to eight weeks.

“We do have a lot on our plate,” Councilman Darrell Jackson said. “There is a lot of information to process about the downtown purchase.”

But, Legg said, “This is such a potentially big project for downtown that we wanted to have early discussion and early analysis.”

“This was enlightening. I’ve learned some new things today,” Councilman Roger Haas said of Thompson’s presentation.

“To move downtown to get the attendance we want, then sooner rather than later we should be asking for this information to be available,” Mayor Darrell Hinnant said.

Since there had originally been no motion on the agenda, Hinnant offered to make a decision on behalf of council, but Councilman Tom Kincaid declined.

Councilman Ryan Dayvault said that many assessments and studies had already taken place for the downtown area. “The money we spent thus far would almost be in vain without the baseball piece.”

“I wasn’t expecting a motion, but I am now,” Legg said.

After a request by City Attorney Wally Safrit for a specific motion, Kincaid made a motion for city staff to proceed with the ballpark planning study based on a $20,000 cost for phase 2.

Hinnant, Dayvault, Kincaid and Haas voted in favor of the motion. Berry, Jackson and Councilman Doug Wilson voted against the motion.