Gastonia’s FUSE district seeks to combine a successful recipe with local flavor

Architect's rendering of FUSE with baseball stadium

As the City of Gastonia begins construction this year on the Franklin Urban Sports and Entertainment project, it seeks to repeat the success of similar developments in more than a half dozen cities in the Carolinas, including four currently under construction. These initiatives, like Gastonia’s FUSE project, combine sports complexes with retail, office and residential development to reinvigorate their center city areas.

High Point, Fayetteville and Kannapolis are currently building these venues. Similar projects have already been completed in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Durham and Charlotte in North Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina. City Manager Michael Peoples said Gastonia employees have toured some of the stadium districts as part of the FUSE design project. “City staff has been following other community stadium construction projects closely,” Peoples said, “and we are fortunate to learn from their successes in transforming their center city areas into popular and exciting destinations.”

Ground was recently broken in High Point, Fayetteville and Kannapolis on mixed-use, public-private projects featuring a sports/entertainment stadium. It’s called “mixed-use” because each includes places to live, eat, shop, work and enjoy entertainment all in one place. “Public-private” means the investment comes from both local government and private developers. “These projects are proven economic catalysts for private investment in downtown redevelopment areas,” Peoples said. “People are drawn to active spaces with exciting, positive energy.”

In Gastonia, as in the other cities, municipal government facilitated the development, providing the vision and pathway to make the revitalization project possible. “Private developers are not likely to come to a depreciated section of a city and propose innovative new uses for it,” Peoples said. “City officials often initiate reinvestment projects such as this by providing a unified vision, attracting qualified investment partners, leveraging state and federal grants, and creating opportunities for success.”

Kristy Crisp, the City of Gastonia’s director of economic development, noted that while the projects are similar in many ways, each is also different. “Each city’s project is customized for its residents,” Crisp said. “City leaders know their residents, their community’s history, the project’s location and what works best for the people who live and work in their city.” Crisp said that includes keeping the residents’ interests and pocketbooks in mind when drawing up the plans. “FUSE has been right-sized for Gastonia,” she said. “The publicly developed and privately developed aspects of the FUSE district all are precisely tailored to work well for the people of Gastonia and to make this project successful.”


Comparing and contrasting four projects now under construction: 

City of Gastonia – FUSE downtown stadium project and surrounding development

Stadium/field construction is to start in 2019 and is to be completed in 2021.

FUSE is a multi-use stadium surrounded by new or repurposed residential and commercial facilities. The 16-acre project site is being developed with public and private money to create a vibrant, walkable destination and community amenity that is used year round. The FUSE district will connect with Gastonia’s Downtown, the Historic York Chester neighborhood and the redeveloped Loray Mill.

Architect's rendering of FUSEStadium:

  • 3,923 fixed seats and 5,000 total seats
  • Concourse and adjoining areas including cabana, indoor and outdoor banquet areas, covered beer garden, party decks and berm
  • Artificial turf field
  • Can be configured for:
    • Baseball
    • Football
    • Soccer
    • Lacrosse
    • Concerts and festivals

Stadium and other costs paid by City of Gastonia: $21.5 million

Revenue for city-funded portion to come from:

  • Hotel occupancy tax
  • Naming rights and sponsorships
  • One-time transfer of Electric utility funds
  • Gaston County Special Tax Incentive Area
  • Municipal bonds
  • Partnership funding
  • Private funding

Private development as part of FUSE district might include:

  • Approximately 200 apartment units
  • 27,000 square feet of retail, restaurants, breweries and tap rooms
  • 18,000 square feet of office space
  • Parking
  • 120-room hotel

The FUSE project is expected to attract $50-$60 million in private development.


City of High Point – downtown stadium project and surrounding development

Groundbreaking was in 2018 and is to be completed in 2019.

This project is intended to bring people, life and vibrancy to the city’s downtown area. The project area is 11.5 acres: 5 acres owned by the city of High Point and 6.5 acres owned and developed by private entities.

High Point baseball stadium under construction
Courtesy of City of High Point

BB&T Point Stadium

  • 3,800 fixed seats and 5,000 total seats
  • 70 independent-league baseball games each year – the Atlantic League’s High Point Rockers moved from Bridgeport, Connecticut
  • Artificial turf field
  • Converts for soccer, football, lacrosse, concerts and banquets

Stadium cost – paid by City of High Point: $36.1 million

Stadium funding to come from:

  • Naming rights
  • Facility fee
  • Parking revenue
  • Team lease of stadium
  • Municipal bonds
  • Funds from High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Taxes on new development surrounding the stadium

Surrounding land may be developed in phases as:

  • 118-room hotel
  • 150 residential apartments
  • 47,500 square feet of office space
  • 31,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, including brewpub
  • Events/convention center
  • Public plaza
  • Children’s museum
  • 450 new parking spaces

Private investment estimated to exceed $58 million in three years.


City of Fayetteville – downtown stadium project and surrounding development 

Construction started 2017 and is to be completed April 2019.

To welcome their first minor league baseball team, the City of Fayetteville is building a new baseball stadium downtown.

Architect's drawing of Fayetteville baseball stadium at night
Courtesy of City of Fayetteville












Stadium and concourse:

  • More than 5,284 total seats
  • Houston Astros will bring a minor league baseball team to Fayetteville – the Woodpeckers
  • Converts for soccer, football, lacrosse, concerts and community events
  • Bleacher bar, kid’s zone, meeting and banquet space

Stadium cost – paid by City of Fayetteville: estimated $39 million

Other City-funded amenity:

  • Public plaza around the stadium
  • 492-space parking garage

Funding of city’s portion to come from:

  • Astros’ lease payments
  • Parking revenue
  • Sale of some city-owned land to private developers
  • Taxes on new development surrounding the stadium

Private development planned near stadium:

  • 59 apartments and 15,000 square feet of retail in a renovated historic hotel
  • 119-room new Hyatt Place hotel
  • Renovated and newly constructed office buildings
  • 100-150 newly constructed apartments
  • Coffee shop, tap room and three restaurants

Private investment near stadium estimated to be nearly $100 million.


City of Kannapolis – Sports and Entertainment Venue and surrounding development

Construction started in 2018 and is to be completed in 2020.

Fifty acres on eight square blocks of new development in Kannapolis’ downtown area is to be anchored by the Sports and Entertainment Venue. The baseball stadium, on the site of the former K-Town Furniture, is expected to attract spinoff private multistory development such as restaurants, retail and residential construction.

Architect's drawing of Kannapolis' baseball stadium at sunset
Courtesy of City of Kannapolis


  • 4,930 total seats
  • New home for the Kannapolis Intimidators, a minor-league affiliate of baseball’s Chicago White Sox
  • 6,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space
  • Luxury suites, party deck, picnic terrace, outfield bar
  • Converts for festivals and concerts

Stadium and other costs paid by City of Kannapolis: estimated $51 million

Funding for city’s portion to come from:

  • Kannapolis Intimidators’ lease payments
  • Municipal bonds

Other city-funded amenities:

  • Urban public park and kid’s zone
  • Improved streetscapes and green spaces designed for street-side concerts, recreation activities, dining and relaxing
  • Two parking decks

Private development planned near stadium:

  • 553 apartments
  • 65,000 square feet of retail space
  • 106-room hotel
  • 85-unit active-adult residential units

Private investment near stadium estimated to exceed $138 million.