The Charlotte Knights have 10 more months to line up financing for a planned baseball stadium in Third Ward, after Mecklenburg commissioners gave final approval Tuesday to a lease extension for the project.
But attorney Jerry Reese, an opponent of the stadium, told commissioners he plans to fight the new deal in court. Reese has filed five lawsuits challenging the stadium and other county projects, but all have been dismissed.
The Knights currently play in Fort Mill, S.C., but have long wanted to build a stadium in Charlotte. The county agreed a few years ago to let the team build a stadium on county land.
According to the 2008 lease, the team was to have its stadium nearly complete by September of this year. But the team isn't close to beginning construction, as it has not yet lined up money for the project.
The deal approved by commissioners on Tuesday gives the team more time to get the financing in order. It sets up several benchmarks for the Knights to meet in coming months. First is putting $100,000 into an escrow account to help repay the cost of defending the Reese lawsuits if the stadium is never built. The county said it has spent $308,246 in legal fees on the cases.
The team must submit its full financial plan for the stadium by June 30 and start construction by October 2012.
Speaking before the commissioners' vote, Reese said he still thinks the stadium is a bad deal for the county. In addition to challenging the lease, he said, he plans to fight a recent decision by commissioners to spend up to $11 million to build Romare Bearden Park in Third Ward. The park was originally slated to go on the land now targeted for the baseball stadium.