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Owner of tiny, fenced-in tract of land at NFL site scoffs at offer, won't sell

By Liz Clarke
Staff Writer

This story originally appeared in the Observer on February 11, 1992

It's been called a "little postage stamp" piece of land. It's more accurately the size of an end zone - about 30 feet by 160 feet. Either way, Hugh Efird owns it.

And unless Efird drastically lowers his asking price, Richardson Sports isn't going to get it - even though Efird's property sits on the edge of the 25-acre chunk of uptown Charlotte land that the Richardson family hopes to build its NFL stadium on.

Efird has even erected a 6-foot chain-link fence to keep construction workers out. And all the Richardsons can do is plan around him.

Efird, 67, is the last holdout in an effort to consolidate nearly 30 parcels of land into a single tract for the 70,000-seat stadium. It's not that Efird's opposed to selling. It's just that he wants a lot more money than anyone seems willing to pay. County tax records say Efird's land is worth $98,330. Efird wants $1.25 million, say those close to the deal.

Efird, president of Polkton Manufacturing Co. in Anson County, declined to comment and referred questions to his son, Aaron, 38.

"I don't think a lot of people have an understanding of how big a money- making proposition NFL football is, " Aaron Efird said. "Think about the money going into a square block of town: $400 million in a city block for football for nine games a year. They pay guys $5 million a year to play. So give me a break. My dad's worked a lifetime, and he doesn't make as much in a lifetime as those guys make in a year. "When you hold an investment for a long time, usually you expect to make a nice return on it."

Asked how much he thought it was worth, Efird said: "In excess of a million bucks." The two sides are so far apart that neither the Uptown Development Corp. nor Duke Power, which had worked to consolidate the land, has made a firm offer. Land on the stadium site sold a few years back for an average of $21 a square foot. At that rate, Efird's land - roughly 4,000 square feet - could fetch $84,000.

The state condemned 922 square feet of Efird's property already to realign roads that will surround the stadium. The Efirds were paid $21,800 for that - about $23 a square foot - a value they are appealing in court.

The Efirds' parcel sits near the intersection of Graham and Mint streets. It's well beyond the "footprint" of the proposed stadium, and even beyond the walkways that would surround it. So it won't stand in the way of any construction, but would no doubt mar its aesthetics.

The Richardson plan an elaborate landscaping of the 25-acre site, and a 6-foot chain link fence isn't part of it. But unless Efird lowers his asking price, the Richardsons say they'll just landscape around him.

"We've given it a great deal of consideration, and we do not have to have Mr. Efird's property, " says Mark Richardson, who is leading the drive for the team. "We've made a decision that we'll go forward without it if he continues to request the amount of money that he is."

Aaron Efird says that's fine by him. "There's no end to what we can do with that land, " Efird said. He mentioned an automatic teller machine, billboards - even "a glamorous hot dog stand."

Whether Efird could get a building permit is another question. "It's an inconvenience right now, " said Boyd Cauble, executive assistant to the city manager. "It'd be nice to have that little postage stamp piece of property. But we'll just work around it. Red tips will look nice around it."

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