HIGH POINT, N.C. – In less than two weeks, a big undertaking begins in North Carolina’s furniture capital. The demolition of old buildings will begin December 1st, the first of many steps to make room for a downtown baseball stadium.
This is many months in the making - with a lot of big players investing time and money to bring a boost to downtown and the local economy.
In the last couple years, the City has come a long way to make all of this happen. Back in March 2016, city council approved a downtown catalyst project: something that would create 500 jobs, add dozens of shops, restaurants, and places to live, all nestled around a central gathering space. From there, it's really taken off.
More than a year after that initial plan, in April 2017, developers dreamed up a multi-use stadium. More than just a ballpark, it would host events year-round.
Then, two months later this past June, he city picked Samet Corporation as the design team. The same company behind BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem and First National Bank Field in Greensboro.
In September, High Point University President Nido Qubein said private donors would contribute 50 million dollars to build up around the ballpark. That same day, the Chairman & CEO of the Atlantic League announced the Bridgeport Bluefish out of Connecticut would move to High Point, under a different name.
Around the same time, Guilford County Commissioners considered adding county money to help pay for the 35-million-dollar stadium, but have yet to decide. That indecision prompted the City to take on a bigger chunk of the bill: 40 percent of the cost, versus 20 percent.
“We still have a little ways to go,” said Jeron Hollis, communications director for High Point, “But this was a really, really important step.”
Then this week, city council finalized some details to get the project going.
“Part of the discussion today was ensuring that we had the authorization to get the funds that we need to move forward to the next step of the process,” said Hollis.
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That brings us to next Friday - a big day for the city and all the people who've worked to transform this part of a downtown, and begin a new chapter in downtown High Point. The ceremonial demolition will start at 11:30 a.m. on the corner of Pine and Church on December 1. The public is invited to join in the celebration.
The city still says construction should be done by opening day 2019.