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Archive for June 17th, 2011

Knights Who Say “More!”

Mecklenburg County commission Bill James has questions about still trying to subsidize the Charlotte Knights into an Uptown ballpark:

I was unaware that the Knights were asking for an ‘ED’ grant. That is a crazy idea. Especially since we are already providing them $8 million in construction help (sidewalks and such) AND providing them $10 million in land. I would be opposed to any additional ‘ED’ grant for the Knights because it would violate the public ‘deal’ that said no tax dollars would go towards baseball. Clearly, an ‘ED’ grant would give them tax money back from the treasury in the form of a rebate of their property taxes. The Knights had agreed to forego an ED grant in exchange for the $8 million construction help and the land. Now, it seems, they also are attempting to raid the public treasury to help pay for the construction costs as well.

As for the financials, we had the financials for whitewater but we are not allowed to have them for the Knights. We allowed Open Door to not get financials for 5 years and everyone is painfully aware of what happened with them. I find it amazing that the normal and routine business standards we use on a daily basis are not being used for the Knights. They are getting preferential treatment and the public and media should wonder why politicians are doing that for them.

The Knights entire ability to pay for this single-use ‘whitewater like’ facility is their ability to generate a significant amount of income uptown that they have not been able to generate at Ft. Mill. The last I remember, their income was $800k a year (a brief summary). The mortgage on a $40 million facility is $5.8 million. Yet, we have agreed to not require them to submit detailed financial information.

It would be nice to be more specific about the loan commitment, how much income they make and other matters but the Commission has rejected requiring them to provide those details giving them preferential treatment – not even requiring audited financials (a la ‘open door’).

I’ll cut to the chase: Unless the public forks over free land and site-prep for a new stadium the Knights will fold. Everyone is afraid to say that outloud, but that is ultimately what is driving this deal.

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June 2011
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