New $37 million downtown stadium drawings approved

3 March 2017

Kannapolis City Council approved the final schematics for the sports and entertainment complex in downtown Kannapolis during their regularly scheduled meeting Monday. Council is pushing for the new stadium to be open by the 2020 Intimidators baseball season.

In December, Kannapolis City Council approved spending $2.4 million on architectural designs for a downtown sports and entertainment venue. Council approved a working agreement with the Kansas City-based firm, Populous, to develop the sports and entertainment complex.

Populous has worked on around 130 ballpark projects, including Southwest University Park, in El Paso, Texas; JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla.; Yankee Stadium in Bronx, N.Y.; and Spirit Communications Park in Columbia, S.C.

“Modern ballparks are so much more than just baseball,” said Zach Allee, senior architect assistant with Populous. “The best ones become 24/7 facilities that have all kinds of activities that engage the community.”

City staff plan to have a contract for construction management services for the Kannapolis City Council by the March 13 meeting, allowing officials to move forward on the complex. Staff will recommend the national construction firm Barton Marlow for the project.

Officials have stated numerous times the sports and entertainment complex will be more than “just baseball,” with the facility possibly used for festivals, marathons, camping, boxing matches and other events.

Also, the main concourse of the stadium looks to be open to the public during non-game days, and the complex could potentially have a kids zone with a splash pad or rock climbing wall. The complex could essentially be used as a downtown park during non-game days.

5800-fan capacity

The sports and entertainment venue is set to hold about 5,800 people, with 3,800 fixed seats and then a variety of other seating styles, such as grass berm seating, rocking chair seating, cabana group seating, drink rail stool seating and other options.

“Modern ballparks really are about variety and having these different ‘neighborhoods’ of seatings to go back multiple times and sit in different areas and have different experiences with all different types of ages and groups,” Allee said.

Suites and meeting space

The complex looks to have eight luxury suites a team store and other amenities, officials said.

The facility will have 8,500 square feet of meeting and banquet space which will be available for special event leasing. The complex also looks to have a party suite with a party deck.

The venue will be designed for small and large groups with numerous seating options to enjoy baseball, concerts, festivals, and many other events, according to a press release.

The venue is envisioned as another piece of the city’s Discover a Healthy Life brand by functioning as a public park. The concourse will be 360 degrees and open to citizens who want to walk or run every day.

“We’ve always envisioned this project to really be an extension of the city,” Allee said.

The existing West Avenue buildings will be an integral part of the venue with uses such as restaurants and shops, according to the press release. The plan calls for the sports and entertainment venue to be a key architectural feature of downtown, especially as one travels in to the downtown core from N.C. 3 to Laureate Way.

Kannapolis City Council has discussed the possibility of relocating the local baseball stadium to downtown, to help bring foot traffic to the area.

“It puts a lot of the existing West Avenue buildings in the outfield where they can really create an active outfield concourse,” Allee said. “The main entry is here off of West and we think that will create a really great synergy between West Avenue and activities that are occurring there in the ballpark allowing whatever retail, bars, restaurants activities here to have use to the ballpark and fans to engage those.”

Moving forward

The stadium could cost around $37 million to build, but officials said it could lead to $26 million worth of “adjacent” private development, officials said at a previous meeting.

Kannapolis Councilman Doug Wilson asked about the old baseball stadium property being sold to help offset the cost of the new stadium.

The more than 20-year-old stadium is home to the Kannapolis Intimidators minor league baseball team and is located off I-85 north of Lane Street on the Rowan County side of the city. Kannapolis bought the stadium’s equity in 2011,

The current stadium is in a watershed and officials say the stadium property cannot be expanded, and additional supportive development for the team cannot occur on the remaining vacant property.

What to do with old stadium?

At a previous meeting, officials with Rowan Works Economic Development, made a presentation to Kannapolis City Council on how the 55-acre old stadium site could be repurposed.

Officials said at that meeting the old Intimidators baseball stadium on Lane Street could be knocked down and the property reused for an office park or an industrial headquarters and could lead to anywhere from $16 million to more than $50 million worth of investment.

Those revenues could be applied against the new stadium construction. Council has also talked about partnerships that could help offset the cost.

“We have talked to county commissioners in Rowan County, county commissioners in Cabarrus as well as the EDC in both counties to help us look for an opportunity to redevelop that park,” said Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant. “And I think we’ve all said to ourselves a corporate headquarters that needs an interstate presence would be the highest and best use. Because, as you know we have limitation on the footprint we have out there, because of the watershed… So if you can build up… rather than build out, it would be more successful to do that.”

If the council moves forward, the old K-Town Furniture building looks to be demolished to make way for the complex in downtown that would sit at the West 1st St and Oak Avenue intersection, bringing visitors to downtown Kannapolis.

At earlier meetings officials showed visitors a market analysis for the area and showed that a minor league baseball stadium could bring 280,000 visitors to downtown Kannapolis a year. The foot traffic from the complex could impact downtown businesses.

“This is the economic driver for downtown, for the development that’s going to happen for private investment,” said Kannapolis Councilman Roger Haas. “Go look at a Walmart shopping center. When they move in everybody moves in around them because they know the traffic’s there. Same thing, I think is what this is for us. So, it’s much, much more than just a baseball stadium and if we want downtown to thrive, it’s absolutely critical.”