Officials in High Point are rounding the bases with their plans to build a baseball stadium downtown.
In fact, they’re ready to hold a groundbreaking ceremony.
It’ll happen on Friday at the corner of Pine Street and Church Avenue, epicenter of the blighted area officials are hoping to revitalize.
The two-hour event comes complete with games, food trucks, music — and to celebrate the arrival of the city’s new minor-league baseball team, free hot dogs and Cracker Jacks for the first 100 people.
The groundbreaking will happen one day after another stadium-related event sponsored by Samet Corp., a High Point developer.
The mixer/information session, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, will give contractors and other vendors a chance to learn details about the project before the bidding process opens.
Officials hope to have the stadium up and running by spring 2019 for the city’s new baseball team, the Atlantic League team formerly known as the Bridgeport (Conn.) Bluefish.
The stadium will have other uses, too, hosting soccer, football and lacrosse games, along with concerts and High Point Market-related events.
It’s part of a plan, two years in the making, to turn a fallow section of downtown into a thriving residential, retail and cultural center.
“There is palpable enthusiasm about what High Point is becoming, particularly among young professionals,” High Point Mayor Bill Bencini said.
The plan includes building a $30 million to $35 million stadium on land the city already owns or is trying to buy in an area bordered by Gatewood Avenue, English Road and Elm and Lindsay streets.
The area would include private development, too. High Point University President Nido Qubein raised $50 million for the baseball team, a children’s museum, a park and an event center.
Greensboro developer Roy Carroll said he plans to build a hotel there, and High Point developer Blue Ridge Cos. said it will build 200 apartments.
Feasibility studies estimate $99 million in new development over 10 years, and 708 full-time equivalent jobs.
Last month, the project’s Baltimore-based developer updated City Council members on the plan, explaining that it would be built in stages. Tim Elliott also talked about senior housing, office buildings, shops and restaurants — and maybe even a satellite building for High Point University along with graduate student housing.
The plan, he said, is a carefully calibrated “effort of private development that brings the city alive 365 days a year.”
There is one detail still outstanding: High Point leaders need a way to pay off the money it would borrow — between $30 million to $35 million — to build the stadium.
On Dec. 5, they’ll ask the state’s Local Government Commission to approve their financial plan: borrowing up to $38 million without raising property taxes.