HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Downtown High Point is on the edge of a transformation and city leaders took big steps forward in multi-use stadium project this week.
”This is it. We are off and running. The train has left the station," High Point University President Dr. Nido Qubein said.
On Thursday, the city's borrowed bonds went on sale, putting $36 million in High Point's bank to fund the stadium. The city also signed a 10-year lease and 20-year operational agreement with the incoming baseball team and stadium operator. It guarantees the city annual income, allowing High Point to pay off the project.
The buildings that once stood at the construction site of the stadium are now leveled.
“To me, I drive by it quite a bit, and I just see the opportunity that our city has to improve our city, improve our downtown, bring life back to our downtown," Mayor Jay Wagner said.
The mayor has signed on the dotted line and things are finally moving forward.
“This is a big step, because it really sort of seals the deal that we are building a stadium," Qubein said.
Dr. Qubein raised $50 million for new development surrounding the stadium, including a children's museum, event's center, playground and park.
“This is just really the tip of the iceberg," he said.
He also raised another $50 million to bring in developers to build hotels, apartments and offices.
“That means people coming here, staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, renting cars, buying gas, et cetera," Qubein said.
Qubein says downtown development is running full steam ahead from here. The baseball team will throw its first pitch in spring 2019. By then, the children's museum will already be under construction. Qubein says he's about to hire an architect to design the museum and he plans to have it open no later than early 2020.
The events center will follow a year later.
“In five years, I think we will see this jigsaw puzzled coming together very well, but it will only be the sort of the beginning of a much longer journey," Qubein said. "So I suspect for the next decade or so we will continue to do major developments in downtown High Point.”
Qubein says all of these additions will bring in more tax revenue and more jobs -- hundreds at first, hoping for thousands down the road.
“More jobs, more residents and more excitement," he said.
A new baseball stadium also needs a new name, and the Winston-Salem Foundation's BB&T Charitable Trust has committed to paying the city for the stadium's naming rights. BB&T will pay $500,000 every year for 15 years to name the stadium. Wagner says the company hasn't settled on an official name just yet but says that's coming soon.