by John Grooms
County commissioners gave the Charlotte Knights yet another breath of hope yesterday by giving the team more time to build the proposed minor-league ballpark in Third Ward. As of now, the team doesnt even have financing arranged, much less having the ballpark substantially complete by this fall, as was originally planned. So, what happens when the Chamber & Co. can't get what they want on time? That's right, the time frame is stretched until they do get it, thanks to our corporate-owned local government. The new deal says the Knights must have financing in place by the end of June 2012, or the lease will be canceled.
Heres a better idea: ditch the whole Knights-move-Uptown! charade, and give citizens what we voted for in that part of town a real urban park, all 8 acres of it. Local media seems to have forgotten or dont care, or are too in thrall to the Chamber to dare mention it that before the Uptown! suits came up with the complicated land-swap, scratch-my-back-and-Ill-scratch-yours deal to get the Knights into Third Ward, voters approved, by a wide margin, using that space to give Charlotte a decent urban park, like a normal world-class city. Its no secret that this city has less available green space per capita (outside the suburbs) than nearly any other city its size, so dumping plans for the big park was a huge deal, and not just for the Knights. Now, it's time to reverse that deal. Read all about the value of great urban parks for a city's soul here.
Look since the Knights deal was proposed, the economy has hit the toilet, and public interest in the ballpark has waned. County Commission should stand on its own for a change, disregard the fond wishes and fantasies of the Uptown! suits, and do whats right for the public. Screw the ballpark, and give us a real park!