Community Leaders Plan Stadium Catalyst Project for Downtown High Point
HIGH POINT, NC (APRIL 3, 2017) – The High Point City Council has voted to approve the purchase of land in downtown High Point that will allow community leaders to move forward with plans to build a multi-purpose stadium. The proposed stadium will cost an estimated $30 million to construct and would be built on a site bordered by Elm, Gatewood, Lindsay and English streets. The land and stadium will be owned by the City of High Point but will not require new taxes or an increase in tax rates.
Forward High Point, a nonprofit coalition of community leaders, is leading the stadium effort, which is a key part of a revitalization plan adopted by the High Point City Council in 2016 to bring new restaurants, residents and commercial activity to downtown High Point while maintaining the city’s furniture showroom heritage. Forward High Point is proposing a multi-purpose stadium that will seat approximately 5,000 for baseball and up to 7,500 for concerts and other events.
A community leader is working to recruit an Atlantic League professional baseball team to serve as the primary tenant of the new stadium. The Board of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Clubs unanimously endorses moving forward with negotiations to have a franchise in High Point following discussions with a potential local ownership group.
In addition to professional baseball, the stadium would be able to host college baseball, football, lacrosse, soccer, concerts, festivals, religious gatherings, holiday events, scout camping nights, movie screenings and a wide range of other community events. Construction on the stadium may begin as early as this fall, and the first game could be scheduled to be played there in spring 2019.
The City’s financial advisor, Davenport & Company, provided an independent analysis that determined no increase in the tax rate would be needed and that the project would not have an impact on the City of High Point’s future bond rating. The five primary sources that will be used to repay the project debt are: the team’s annual lease, facility fees, parking surcharge, naming rights and increased property tax revenues. The increased property tax revenues are largely based on new development in and around the stadium.
“Although our two annual High Point Markets bring large numbers of people to the city and have a very positive impact on our tax base, our community must act now to sustain itself for the other 50 weeks of the year when the Markets are not taking place,” Forward High Point executive director Ray Gibbs said. “Having a vibrant downtown year-round not only is important for enhancing the quality of life for local residents, but it is an economic reality that we must do something to become more competitive and attract a new generation of people and businesses to High Point.”
“Other cities across America of similar size to High Point, including Fayetteville and Gastonia, are constructing stadiums to serve as new centers of activity in their downtown areas,” Forward High Point board chair Doyle Early, Jr. said. “Sports stadiums, particularly baseball stadiums, have strong track records of successes for serving as hubs for private investment and new development in urban areas. You don’t have to look any further than our neighboring cities of Greensboro and Winston-Salem to see the positive economic impact of their downtown stadiums.”
A special task force appointed by Mayor Bill Bencini working in conjunction with the High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau and City Project commissioned a 13-month stadium feasibility study conducted by industry-leader Convention Sports & Leisure that estimates within a decade a multi-purpose stadium would serve as a catalyst to attract 350 new residential units; 35,000 square feet of retail; 30,000 square feet of restaurants; 300 hotel rooms and 75,000 square feet of office space to downtown High Point. To date, only private funds have been used to fund the feasibility study.
“The growth projected by the Convention Sports & Leisure study represents approximately $99 million in new private investment in High Point,” Gibbs said. “From what we’re seeing already happening in other cities, we think the estimated new investment as a result of the stadium may be conservative.”
The Convention Sports & Leisure study also showed that the stadium construction itself would generate 137 new full-time jobs. After its completion, the study said the stadium would support 708 new full-time equivalent jobs annually. The study also indicated that the stadium would host more than 150 annual events, with a combined attendance of at least 250,000 people.
About Forward High Point – Forward High Point is a nonprofit organization formed as a public-private partnership in 2016 to lead the effort to bring new energy into downtown High Point above and beyond the furniture market and showroom district. Forward High Point’s strategic mission is to transform downtown High Point into an extraordinary and vibrant destination to live, work, study and play. Governed by a board of directors with significant representation of the City of High Point as well as local business and civic leaders, Forward High Point has been tasked with not only planning for, but also implementation of, goals mandated by the High Point City Council.