• Thomas Russell

Baseball stadium coming to downtown High Point

New venue could be site for future market events

HIGH POINT — The latest major project being planned for downtown High Point is not a new showroom or furniture company moving into town. But the impact on the furniture market could be significant nonetheless.

The City of High Point is planning to develop a $30 million baseball stadium on a 12-acre site it has assembled between English Road, Lindsay Street and Gatewood Avenue downtown. The stadium itself is expected to occupy about 5 acres of that.

Officials are hoping to have the facility completed and opened in time for the spring 2019 season. The city has set aside up to $15 million for the land and would fund the stadium itself with a special obligation bond that is similar to a mortgage that gets paid off over a number of years, said High Point City Manager Greg Demko. That in turn would be paid off with various fees associated with the facility as well as tax revenue growth that is expected to occur with the stadium.

Both Demko and High Point Mayor Bill Bencini briefed the High Point Market Authority at its meeting on Wednesday, the last day of the April market.

Bencini told the Market Authority that the Atlantic League has shown its interest and support for using the stadium once it comes to fruition. He added that it will boost revenues for the City of High Point resulting from businesses that develop around the stadium, which also is expected to hold 7,000 people for concerts that could occur during markets.

“We think it will only enhance the market,” he said, noting that tax values in that area of the city have fallen from $821 million to $808 million in recent years.

“We’re going in the wrong direction, and it is really important we do things to increase the tax base,” he said.

“It’s time for us to stop the bleeding and start growing,” said Demko, the city manager.

The anticipated development of more retail and restaurants downtown, officials note, also could help make people shopping market more likely to spend time downtown instead of going to other nearby cities such as Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

“It’s not just about baseball, it’s about low-priced entertainment for young families,” Bencini noted. “We feel like we have structured this to have the greatest success possible. … I am confident we will get this done. It’s all about having High Point be a more attractive place.”

Tom Conley, president and CEO of the High Point Market Authority, said that the mayor spoke to a retailer focus group about the project on Sunday at market and that the reaction was very positive.

“Customers see this as an opportunity to be closer to High Point by having more restaurants and bars and a place to relax,” he said. “It will be nice to have some more options closer to home for dinner and entertainment purposes.

He added that as the region looks to the future, it will also be important to keep young people here vs. having them flock to Raleigh and Charlotte.

“Anything that can help from a social standpoint makes sense,” he said, adding that the project could spur young entrepreneurs in and outside the industry to develop and grow businesses in the core city market area.

Thomas RussellThomas Russell | Associate Editor, Furniture Today

I'm Tom Russell and have worked at Furniture/Today since August 2003. Since then, I have covered the international side of the business from a logistics and sourcing standpoint. Since then, I also have visited several furniture trade shows and manufacturing plants in Asia, which has helped me gain perspective about the industry in that part of the world. As I continue covering the import side of the business, I look forward to building on that knowledge base through conversations with industry officials and future overseas plant tours. From time to time, I will file news and other industry perspectives online and, as always, welcome your response to these Web postings.

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