|By Kerry Singe, The Charlotte
ObserverMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 28, 2013--The Charlotte Knights baseball team plans to build a 125-room hotel near its uptown stadium, the group said Wednesday. The hotel will offer underground parking.
The Knights are building a new stadium in uptown at the intersections of Mint, Martin Luther King, Graham and Fourth streets. The BB&T Ballpark is set to open April 10, 2014.
During a Charlotte Chamber event, a Knights official mentioned the team's plans for a hotel but did not provide many details.
Later Wednesday, Knights executive vice president and chief operating officer Dan Rajkowski told the Observer: "We are in discussions with various developers regarding a hotel, potential office space and mixed-use with some underground parking."
Local tourism and city leaders have talked about uptown's need for more hotel rooms in recent years.
The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority has said the city's hotel industry is at "historic levels" of occupancy and profitability and has bounced back from the recession that began in 2008.
While uptown advocates and tourism officials once touted the benefits of a mega-sized 1,000-room hotel, they have since backed away from the idea. Instead, they say, they expect uptown's hotel industry to grow more organically, with the development of smaller hotels or additions to existing ones.
An example of the types of hotel projects expected to be built: Charlotte-based Crescent Resources has said it plans to build a mixed-used project anchored by offices on three acres at the corner of South Tryon and East Stonewall streets. Crescent is still designing the project, but company officials said they are considering apartments, retail and a hotel.
In a separate project, a Greensboro-based hotel developer bought land near the convention center, where it plans to build a 230-room Embassy Suites.
To build the stadium, the Knights will get $7.25 million from Mecklenburg County's hotel and motel occupancy tax, which is dedicated to tourism. Charlotte Center City Partners, which advocates for uptown, will contribute $725,000.
Charlotte has not been home to minor league baseball in 24 years, after then-owner George Shinn moved the team to South Carolina. The Knights have since played in Fort Mill, where the Chicago White Sox affiliate now draws some of the International League's smallest crowds.
Work on the stadium, which will seat roughly 10,200, began in September.
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