Kannapolis leaves last beam of baseball stadium for public to sign
By Natalie Alms
KANNAPOLIS — Putting graffiti on public property is usually frowned upon by public officials. This week, though, Kannapolis invited the public to leave its mark on the new Sports and Entertainment Venue (SEV) being built downtown.
The tradition of signing the last steel beam is usually reserved for the construction workers that put the beam in place. However, the city gave the community the chance to sign it at Kannapolis Intimidators’ games Sunday and Monday and in front of City Hall Wednesday and today.
“It’s only right to have the public come and sign it,” said Communications Director Annette Keller. “The SEV is a place for everyone.”
The last beam, anticipated to be put place later this month, will denote the completion of the steel infrastructure that will contain the concessions, suites and conference space in the SEV. The $52 million new downtown venue, with its 4,930 capacity, is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2020 season of the Intimidators.
The SEV is meant to be a community resource good for more than baseball games and concerts alone. The space will also be open year-round to residents for daily access to use as a park or walking space along the concourse, and to rent out for events.
Now, the new baseball stadium is a steel shell surrounded by mounds of Carolina clay and an assortment of construction equipment. A fence around the project mostly keeps the public out, but people left enough autographs that the white beam was nearly covered Wednesday morning.
Brian and Roberta Hoskin came to City Hall specifically for the purpose of leaving their names on the beam. Brian has taken to checking the progress of the construction and capturing pictures of it a couple of times a week.
“It’s just for fun,” he said.
He signed his name slowly and carefully.
“He wanted to be part of it,” Roberta said.
The SEV is part of Kannapolis’ $300 million downtown revitalization plan. The new stadium, which has a view of Kannapolis City Hall, sits at one end of what will be a new downtown. The plan includes apartments, retail and office space in addition to the two anchors of the project, the SEV and a performing arts center.
The Hoskins are looking forward to more than just a new stadium. They moved to Kannapolis three years ago and remember that downtown looked bleak upon their arrival.
The idea behind the larger downtown revitalization plan, which was adopted by the City Council in July 2016, is to revive the city’s center. Cannon Mills, which was owned Pillowtex at its bankruptcy, used to dominate the downtown with a 5.9-million-square-foot plant and headquarters, but it closed its doors in 2003, taking its economic might with it.
“To see an empty, barren street go to places to eat, maybe a place to have a drink or two, it’ll be nice,” said Brian Hoskin.
Others echoed that idea. Brandon Shively owns U.S. Lawns in Kannapolis. He and business partner Brandon Moxam stopped by the beam on Wednesday to autograph it.
“We try to have a little fun to while we get together and do business planning,” said Moxam. “So it’d be awesome for me to see the new stadium as a good place for us to hang out and socialize for a little bit.”
Streetscape and infrastructure updates are in progress downtown and set to be completed by Labor Day weekend, said Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant. The streetscape plan will create an urban linear park with green space for activities, while the infrastructure updates focus on replacing aging and undersized utilities. The plan also includes a mixed-use district of apartments and businesses set to be finished in late 2020 or early 2021, Hinnant said.
“It’s a celebration,” Hinnant said about the beam signing. “It’s time for everyone to know that this building is coming alive.”
Contact news intern Natalie Alms at 704-797-2777.
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