07Stadium w buldingsLost in the city of Fayetteville’s enthusiasm to develop a minor league baseball stadium was a Durham property developer’s interest in renovating the former Prince Charles Hotel. Fayetteville native Jordan Jones became project manager for what became PCH Holdings, Inc. Jones’ grandfather built the eight-story Hay Street hotel in 1924. Jones and his colleagues approached city government about what the city might do in support of their project.

That’s when former Deputy City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney suggested a baseball stadium. Eventually, city-owned property adjacent to the old hotel was selected for the ballpark. She’s no longer with the city, and Deputy Manager Kristoff Bauer took up the project.

This month, Bauer announced that an initial $47 million stadium cost projection had been reduced to nearly $38 million by contractor Barton Malow. But, that was $5 million over the budget city council established two years ago. All sub contracts had been bid, and the final price of $37,885,102 was agreed to. The only thing not included in the city’s cost is interest on the loan.

Bauer told council that site preparation work had exceeded expectations by $4 million. There were other project elements, including a more elaborate scoreboard and LED lighting, that increased the budget. “This has been a challenging process,” Bauer said.

The city’s budget director, Tracey Broyles, told city council the city has the capacity to absorb the difference in the projected budget by diverting $1 million a year from its capital improvement fund in the out years to make bond payments.

Council will have to decide which CIP projects to sacrifice. Council members voted unanimously to go forward with the project.

“It’s too late to turn back now,” said councilman Bill Crisp. He reminded members he had been adamantly opposed to the project initially. He now calls the project a “renaissance,” which is the impetus for $100 million plus in economic development projects.

Bauer and Barton Malow executives estimate as many as 1,000 construction jobs and upward of 500 permanent operating jobs will grow out of the stadium project and the surrounding building opportunities. They include a five-story parking garage with a hotel and eight-story office building atop it.

City council will now submit its funding application to the North Carolina Local Government Commission for approval to issue limited-obligation bonds to finance the stadium’s construction.

“We’ve been confident this entire time that they would develop a beautiful stadium,” said Mark Zarthar, president of the Fayetteville Baseball Club.

The Houston Astros own the minor league team that will play in Fayetteville beginning next year, and they will manage the stadium. Team President Reid Ryan, the son of major league hall of famer Nolan Ryan, agreed to a 30-year lease on the stadium. The team will announce the name of the team and its mascot in mid-April.

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