Getting ready for baseball deluge

How does a town prepare for 1,400 young athletes and 3,500 of their family members from all 50 states, converging on it throughout spring, summer and fall?

"The biggest challenge will be to remain who we are," Mooresville business owner John Amon said. "Our town is going to grow by several thousand people a week, and we want to embrace them.... We want to greet them in the Southern-hospitality way."

Amon was part of a seven-member delegation from Mooresville who recently drove to Cooperstown, N.Y., to prepare for the expected opening next summer of America's Park.

The 25-field invitational youth baseball complex is planned for Rankin Hill Road between Mooresville and Troutman.

Officials expect at least 80,000 visitors from mid-March through mid-November each year for weeklong tournaments. Players will live in 60 cabins on site; their families are expected to book up to 100,000 room nights a year at local hotels.

The complex is being developed by three partners. They include Lou Presutti of Salisbury, who operates a smaller youth baseball complex in Cooperstown called Cooperstown Dreams Park.

Mooresville commissioner Mac Herring, another member of the delegation to Cooperstown, said America's Park will create opportunities for entrepreneurs.

He cited Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard near Cooperstown and its numerous events, and noted how a grocery store, a miniature golf course, restaurants and other businesses opened near Cooperstown Dreams Park.

America's Park can attract more businesses to downtown Mooresville, he said. Farmers can host activities to bring in more revenue.

Herring and Amon visited Cooperstown July 23-26 with local businessman Dave Sopp; Kim Atkins, executive director of the Mooresville Downtown Commission; town commissioner Mitch Abraham; Mooresville Fire Chief Wes Greene; and Jeff Brotherton, Mooresville's information/technology director.

Amon said one challenge will be making sure the state follows through on promised road improvements.

Another will be to ensure that visitors don't face suddenly higher prices, Amon and Herring said. That's not the town's way, they said..

"We're going to be the Disneyland of baseball," said Amon, who owns The Insurance Center on South Main Street with his father, Bob, and is treasurer of the downtown commission.

"They're going to remember this for the rest of their lives, and we want them to say, 'It was one of the greatest experiences we've had as a family.' "

I-85 Exit 49 improvements begin

Work began in July to improve the Interstate 85 Exit 49 area between Concord Mills mall and Weddington Road.

A second left-turn lane is being added to turn onto Weddington Road Extension, heading south away from I-85, according to the city hall blog at An additional through lane is being built to cross I-85 from Weddington Road to Concord Mills Boulevard.

Exit 49 is one of the busiest intersections in the region, city officials said. Concord Mills mall is the top tourist attraction in North Carolina. Traffic is compounded with Charlotte Motor Speedway, zMax Dragway, Great Wolf Lodge, Concord Regional Airport and related hotels and other businesses.

Those attractions combined bring about 20 million visitors a year, officials said.

The Exit 49 improvements are the first of several major Concord-area road projects planned over the next several years. Those projects include widening the remaining four-lane section of I-85 through part of Cabarrus County and modernizing the I-85 interchanges at Poplar Tent Road (Exit 52) and N.C. 73 (Exit 55).

Offer input on Huntersville parks plan

Town residents can offer thoughts Aug. 17 on the Huntersville Parks and Recreation Commission's 2020 Parks and Recreation Master Plan Recommendation.

The commission will offer its recommendations at 7 p.m. that night at Huntersville Town Hall, 101 Huntersville-Concord Road.