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Developer asks for delay in sports complex near Bojangles’ Coliseum

The city’s plans to create an amateur sports complex and hotel near Bojangles’ Coliseum are on hold as the private developer hasn’t yet been able to secure financing, according to emails sent to the city.
The city’s plans to create an amateur sports complex and hotel near Bojangles’ Coliseum are on hold as the private developer hasn’t yet been able to secure financing, according to emails sent to the city. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

The developer of a proposed amateur sports complex adjacent to Bojangles’ Coliseum has asked for a year’s delay in the project, a move that may mean the city’s partnership with Florida-based Goodsports Enterprises is over.

The company’s chief executive, Jerald Good, sent City Manager Ron Carlee a letter Thursday asking that the two sides “curtail ... any future talks or discussions” about the project.

Goodsports and the city wanted to build a hotel and a field house that would be a magnet for youth sports tournaments.

But Goodsports has had trouble getting financing for other projects in Kansas, Missouri and Ohio. It encountered several delays in getting financing for the Charlotte project and had asked for numerous extensions.

City Council member Michael Barnes, chairman of the City Council’s economic development committee, said Thursday that the concept of an amateur sports complex isn’t finished. He said the city might look for another partner or build the project itself.

“We may have an opportunity to partner with someone else,” he said.

Charlotte has set aside $25 million for the complex. The money was part of a more than $800 million capital spending program approved by council members in 2013.

In addition to a significant amount of staff time, the city has also spent about $3.5 million toward the project. The city bought and then demolished an Econo Lodge hotel on Independence Boulevard that is near the proposed site.

The city’s plan was to use the hotel site for parking while the amateur sports complex was under construction.

The issue was discussed at the committee’s Thursday meeting. Goodsports did not attend.

In his letter, Good said “we remain very serious and dedicated to this opportunity in Charlotte. ... However, it appears it might be prudent to revisit the proposal down the road.”

The company told the city in December that a Wichita amateur sports complex would break ground in the first quarter of this year. In its Thursday letter, Goodsports said it hopes to break ground in the spring.

Barnes said he thought the $25 million was earmarked specifically for a sports complex use and couldn’t be easily shifted to other areas.

Now that the Charlotte Checkers have agreed to move their home games to the Coliseum from Time Warner Cable Arena, Barnes said he thought that could bring some energy to the area. That might make it easier to continue with plans to build the amateur sports complex.

The city also gave the committee an update on a consultant’s recommendation for what to do with the roughly 80 acres the city owns at the old Eastland Mall site.

Plans for a large mixed-use development failed. Plans to build a movie studio on the site also fell through.

The latest proposal is for the city to first build a stormwater retention pond on the 80 acres, which would be required under new building regulations. The plan is for the pond to act as an amenity, which could attract residential development.

The city is also discussing partnering with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools about building a magnet school on the site.

Council member Al Austin said he was disappointed that the city doesn’t have any bigger plans for the site.

“I was looking for a ‘Wow!,’” Austin said. “But I guess this is what the market will bear.”

Harrison: 704-358-5160

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