“Take me out to the ballpark!”
That’s what the Guilford County commissioners have decided they want.
On Tuesday, April 23, the county commissioners, after collaborating with county staff, decided to cancel the board’s meeting scheduled for Thursday, May 2 so that the commissioners can attend the grand opening of the new BB&T Point stadium in downtown High Point when the Rockers play their first home baseball game.
Earlier this month, High Point officials sent an invitation to the county commissioners to see if they would attend the big event; however, until Tuesday, it wasn’t clear that they would go since the commissioners hold their meetings on the first and third Thursday of every month, and the board’s first May meeting was in direct conflict with the opening night festivities.
What makes the decision to cancel the meeting and attend the game so interesting is that, over the last year and a half, there’s been a lot of bad blood between the county commissioners and many officials in High Point who backed the stadium. That’s because in mid-2017 High Point requested that Guilford County help fund the $36-million stadium by committing millions in future tax revenues that are expected to be generated from the new economic development in downtown High Point due to the stadium’s presence and the related revitalization efforts. However, the Board of Commissioners said no to that plan – well, technically, the board never voted on it at all – and that set off an ugly battle of words between the county commissioners and those running the county’s second largest city.
However, despite that animosity – some of which still remains – the wound appears to be healing: The city has invited all the commissioners to the Rockers’ opening game and the pregame launch party, and now most commissioners appear eager to attend. If the county commissioners wanted an excuse to not go to High Point that night, due to the bad blood in the past, they had the perfect excuse to miss it.
Some commissioners – such as Democrats Carlvena Foster and Skip Alston – did argue for giving High Point the funds, or for at least trying to work out an alternative deal; however, the majority of the board rejected the deal that High Point requested.
The commissioners have said all along that they support the stadium and want it to succeed; however, in 2017 they questioned some of the data and assumptions High Point used in its financial models and the county commissioners also didn’t want to give up years of future tax revenue increases since county services will be needed to support the extra growth in High Point and those services will have to be paid for somehow.
Now, the long lasting wound from that disagreement seems to be healing.
Commissioner Jeff Phillips summed up the view of many commissioners this week.
“I’m looking forward to being at the Rockers home opener and hope the team is wildly successful!” he wrote in a text message.