Gastonia One Step Closer To Multi-Million Dollar Sports Complex
Gastonia, NC — Dreams of a revitalized downtown Gastonia are closer to becoming a reality, the city council says.
The city took a step toward opening a sports complex called FUSE.
Council voted unanimously to give city staff the go ahead to apply for bond approval. The staff will send that application to local government committee.
“If you build it, they will come,” said Jim Morasso.
He owns Webb Custom Kitchen in downtown. He and local business owners encouraged council Tuesday.
The Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce says a venue for sports and concerts will bring apartments, restaurants and jobs to the struggling West side.
“FUSE can be truly transformative to economic development that brings quality of life to city of Gastonia,” Chamber CEO Steve D’Avria.
The Economic Development Commission agreed.
“I don’t think there’s anything else that will aggregate those people in the downtown area and give them a chance to get some consumers down here and create energy around it,” said Executive Director Donny Hicks.
Skeptics shared two questions: who will play there and how will the city pay for it?
It should cost around $21.5 million. It will take 20 years to pay for at around $1.5 million a year, the city says.
The plan does not include using your tax dollars.
The city plans to use hotel occupancy tax, savings, debt capacity and private sector funding.
No team is set in stone yet. City staff says three baseball teams, including the Gastonia Grizzlies, have shown interest. Staff is talking to professional soccer programs.
“We are at the perfect slate for redefining our downtown community,” said Morasso.
Construction could start in August or September. Bids are due this month.