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Kannapolis seeking redevelopment proposals for site of old baseball stadium

KANNAPOLIS — While the new Atrium Health Ballpark has been a major point of Kannapolis’ downtown revitalization, the site of the city’s old baseball stadium could soon have a second life of its own.

The city of Kannapolis announced Monday that it is now accepting purchase and redevelopment proposals for the 55.46-acre property where the Kannapolis Intimidators Stadium vacantly sits. The city is seeking $2.75 million for sale of the property. 

Built in 1995, the Intimidators Stadium housed the Class A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox until last year, when the team underwent a branding makeover and moved to a new stadium. The Kannapolis Intimidators became the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers and would have played its first season in Atrium Health Ballpark if COVID-19 hadn’t caused the MLB to cancel the minor league season.

The Intimidators Ballpark was held in a state of limbo leading up to the 2020 season in case construction on Atrium Health Ballpark was not complete in time for opening day. With that no longer being a concern, Kannapolis Mayor M. Darrell Hinnant said the city is ready to see if it can redevelop that property.

“We are looking to see what the market says it should be,” Hinnant said.

Although about 10 acres of the property is taken up by the stadium and its associated structures, 19 acres remain vacant on the southern end of the parcel. The property is zoned office institutional.

At the top of the city’s criteria for a new development are job creation and environmental protection. The city is seeking a private investment that will create jobs that pay above Rowan County’s average of $43,883.

“We would like to see proposals from developers that would maximize private investment on the site that would create quality jobs for people in our city and region, increase the tax base, and preserve the environmental qualities of the location,” Kannapolis City Manager Mike Legg said in a news release.

Hinnant harbors his own vision for what the property could be.

“I personally have always said that that site would be a wonderful location for a corporate headquarters that needed an interstate presence,” Hinnant said.

Hinnant said that a corporate office space at the site could serve as a permanent billboard that could help a company market itself to the thousands of cars that drive by on Interstate 85 each day.

While the site’s access to I-85 might normally make it an ideal spot for a distribution center, much like the Aldi or Chewy facilities in northern Rowan County, the parcel’s closeness to the Lake Fisher watershed limits the amount of impervious area that can be taken up by a new development. A company looking to locate a corporate headquarters on the site could circumvent that restriction by building up, Hinnant said.

Regardless of what development eventually calls the site home, Hinnant doesn’t expect the baseball stadium to be standing for much longer.

“Well, even two or three years ago when we started dreaming of putting together a downtown stadium, there were still several hundred thousand dollars of repairs to the HVAC and other things at the old ballpark,” Hinnant said. “I can’t imagine how somebody is going to want to spend that much money and still be stuck with an old ball field.”

Proposals will be accepted until Friday, Nov. 6 at 5 p.m. After that, Hinnant said, it could take a month or more to review the proposals and decide on the best course of action.

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