Reese appeals dismissal of baseball suits

Charlotte attorney Jerry Reese said local leaders broke from their own rules – and the law – when they agreed to a complex land deal that would pave the way for a minor league baseball stadium in uptown.

Reese asked a three-judge panel from the Court of Appeals on Wednesday to toss out a previous order dismissing two lawsuits he filed to try to stop the planned stadium for the Charlotte Knights. He said he should be given a chance to explain why he thinks the land transactions are illegal.

But an attorney for Mecklenburg County, the city of Charlotte and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board said the bodies' actions were within state law. Jim Cooney also said Reese has failed to cite what local procedures he believes leaders did not follow in agreeing to the project.

For nearly two hours, the attorneys outlined their cases before the appeals panel, and fielded questions from the judges. The arguments focused on technical and other interpretations of state statutes and case law because, the attorney said, there is little dispute over a majority of the facts in the case.

The Charlotte Knights plan to build a 10,000-seat stadium on county property in Third Ward as part of a complicated swap of public and private property across uptown, including the city's Marshall Park and the school system's headquarters.

Reese has filed four lawsuits against the stadium plan, all of which have been dismissed and all of which he is appealing.

Reese said the school board and city should have allowed other groups to bid on their respective properties before agreeing to the land deal. He said they may not be getting fair market value for their land. But Cooney said the school board is being fairly compensated for its property, and that Reese has not shown that any other group was interested in bidding for the property or would have presented a better offer.

The appeals panel likely will issue a decision in coming months.