York County panel urged to consider multipurpose fields after Knights leave stadium

When Charlotte Knights move, Fort Mill site could accommodate multipurpose fields, some say

dworthington@heraldonline.comNovember 29, 2012 

— The 32-acre Knights Stadium property owned by York County could be redeveloped into a sports complex similar to Rock Hill’s Manchester Meadows, youth sports officials advocated Thursday.

Speakers from the Fort Mill Lacrosse Club said there is a shortage of multipurpose fields in the county.

The Knights Stadium property could easily accommodate eight or more fields, giving youth teams of all sports access to more fields for practice and games, speakers said.

The multipurpose fields also could be used for tournament play. The Fort Mill Lacrosse Club currently sponsors four tournaments a year with an economic impact of $1 million, club officials said.

Their comments came at sparsely attended meeting of the York County Council-appointed committee to study uses for the site off Gold Hill Road after the Charlotte Knights baseball team moves to a new stadium in downtown Charlotte in 2014. The meeting was held at Nation Ford High School.

The meeting comes as the County Council is holding discussions with fashion retailer Cato, which recently submitted a $5.7 million bid in federal bankruptcy court to buy 260 acres adjacent to the county’s land.

Cato has that indicated it may build a distribution center on the site, while also considering it for other uses, York County Manager Jim Baker said.

The county is looking beyond the company’s immediate needs to see if there are broader, complementary uses for the two properties, Baker said.

He said the county could sell the land, but there is no assurance it would go to Cato as it would have to be sold through a public bid process.

The stadium land could be part of a public-private partnership to develop the entire site, considered a prime location because of its proximity to Interstate 77.

Cato officials could not be reached Thursday for comment. The company has stated it is doing its “due diligence” as it considers purchasing the property.

The Knights have been leasing the York County site for $1 a year for the past 23 years.

Construction of a new $54 million stadium is under way in downtown Charlotte. BB&T has paid for naming rights to the stadium. The Knights, a AAA minor-league team affiliated with the Chicago White Sox, will play their 2013 home games in Fort Mill.

Five people spoke at Thursday’s meeting, which was intended to get public input on how the county site could be used.

Four advocated for youth sports, and Nation Ford High School’s band director, Martin Dickey, said multipurpose fields also would meet the needs of area band programs.

The County Council-appointed committee is scheduled to have four more meetings before making its recommendation for what to do with the stadium site.

No date was set for the next meeting.

Don Worthington 803-329-4066

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