Families arrive hours early for historic Charlotte Knights game

04/11/2014 8:52 PM

04/12/2014 1:28 AM

The Lowe family of Lake Wylie arrived 3 1/2 hours early for the start of the Charlotte Knights’ home opener at BB&T BallPark on Friday.

They rode the light rail from South Boulevard and joined hundreds of other families enjoying all of the pre-game festivities in nearby Romare Bearden Park. Daughter, Kailyn, 4, could have played the children’s games for hours more, especially the jumping bells.

“It makes for a fun day for the kids,” mom, Kassi, said.

Once inside the stadium, Kailyn got the image of flowers around a baseball painted on her face for free, while her parents admired the uptown skyline beyond the outfield fence.

The park reminded Kassi Lowe of the major league stadium in her native San Francisco. “It is more like a major league setting,” husband, Wayne, said.

And, for Charlotte on this night, it was a historic setting.

“How many opportunities do you get to see a new ballpark on its opening day?” said eight-year Knights fan Jack Franco, 51, of south Charlotte. He was among the first in line at one of entrance gates with his 13-year-old son, David.

So were Doug Lang, 46, and his son, Bailey, 12. They had standing-room only tickets and brought their baseball gloves. They were at the last game the Knights played in Fort Mill and wanted to be here for BB&T BallPark’s first.

“He and I have had just a great time going to the games,” Doug Lang said. His wife and daughter were soon to join them.

“Oh, my God, it’s so beautiful!” Bailey blurted out once they’d gotten inside and looked out to the skyline from the mezzanine behind home plate.

A handful of other fans, meanwhile, perched on some grass near West Fourth and South Mint streets to watch the game from beyond the outfield. “My best friend works here, and it’s a great day to watch baseball,” Mercedes Mason, 19, of Charlotte said.

“If (the Knights) don’t complain, I’ll probably sit out here every game,” friend Stefon Martin, 22, said. “I’ll go to the Knights store and get some team apparel to wear.”

Lifelong Charlottean Quinn Jones, 33, also was among the first fans at one of the entrance gates before it opened at 5 p.m. She brought her daughter, Faith Thompson, 10, and acknowledged with a hearty laugh that she’s not much of a baseball fan. Her daughter is more interested in playing other sports.

But this night was part of Charlotte’s history, she said, and she and her daughter would never have missed being a part of it.

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