Long Night Ends With Disappointment For High Point Stadium Backers
Guilford Commissioners postponed a vote Thursday on whether to financially support a proposed baseball stadium in downtown High Point.
A partisan crowd of stadium supporters let Commissioner Melvin “Skip” Alston know what they thought of his motion to delay the vote with a loud and sustained “boo.”
Alston said postponing the measure gave it a better chance to succeed. He warned that if the council had voted Thursday, it would have failed. A substitute motion by Commissioner Carlvena Foster of High Point to proceed with the vote died without being seconded.
Supporters - including several past and current High Point elected officials - urged the commissioners to vote immediately in favor of the plan, saying a delay could hurt its timeline. Their goal is to have the stadium ready for opening day in 2019, and much of the surrounding development in the plan is contingent upon having the ballpark.
Opponents argued that the local government shouldn’t spend public money to build stadiums.
Bob Stover, an opponent, said High Point expressed similar civic enthusiasm during the push to build Oak Hollow Mall in the 1990s. The mall closed earlier this year after a long period of decline. Stover was skeptical that the city could support the ballpark development.
“Are people going to come from Greensboro, or Winston, to lil ol’ High Point, with their blight? I don’t think so,” he said. “I mean it’s nonsense.”
Mayor Bill Bencini issued a terse statement in response to the measure being tabled.
“With the Guilford County Commissioners vote tonight to delay, the High Point City Council will evaluate our options,” he said. When asked a follow-up question, Bencini threw up his arms and walked off.
It was a long night for people interested in the plan. The meeting opened with public comments about the ballpark. But the vote to delay wasn’t taken until more than two hours later, following a lengthy debate over the county’s ordinance to require pet owners to spay or neuter their pets or face a $200 fine. That measure ultimately passed.
The commissioner’s ballpark decision means they won’t hold another vote on the plan for at least two months.