Mint Hill has always been known as a baseball town.
At least according to some of the locals.
“Mint Hill is a baseball kind of town,” said Steve Baucom, Athletic Director for Mint Hill American Legion Baseball. “We’ve won championships and there’s a long history with baseball here, but that’s not all we are.”
Baseball, particularly a baseball stadium, seems to be a hot topic around town these days. A bond referendum vote will be on the ballot Nov. 6 for the public to vote on two bonds.
One of those bonds is a Parks and Recreation bond, which will go to the construction of two major projects to support Mint Hill sports, according to the town’s website, www.minthill.com. The first project is a park of several rectangle all-purpose athletic fields to support sports like soccer and lacrosse.
The other project is a facility that will serve as a baseball stadium to be used for local non-profit teams like Mint Hill Athletic Association, American Legion along with Independence and Queen’s Grant High Schools. The 2,500 seat venue will also be home to a collegiate summer-league baseball team. The town has signed a tentative lease to bring the team here if the bond passes.
“This will be an incredible opportunity for our baseball team at Indy,” said Sam Skinner, Head Baseball Coach at Independence High School. “To be able to have that type of facility for our high school will be a great source of school pride and help elevate the game for the athletes and our fans.”
“Sports and life are similar, you face adversity and failure both as an individual and as part of a team,” Skinner added. “Sports give our young people a recipe for success in life and there is less crime in communities that have plenty of options available for sports.”
In addition to baseball, there are tentative plans to host a variety of events including, but not limited to concerts, festivals and town community events.
According to Town Manager Brian Welch, most of the town events like the pep rally will be moved to this new facility if the bond passes.
This bond came about from years of requests from organizations like the Mint Hill Athletic Association and the Mint Hill American Legion about the need for these facilities in the community.
“For years, Mint Hill Athletic Association has provided our community with healthy competition, deep-rooted friendships and fun memories made through youth recreational sports. With support from our neighbors this election, we hope to further our mission with new facilities and new sporting opportunities while maintaining our attainable pricing and having the assurance that the cheering will continue on Brief Road for many, many years to come,” said Colin Lerch, MHAA Baseball President. “It’s an exciting time for our town!”
One of the growing sports in the area is lacrosse, which also is in need of more fields to play on.
“We’ve had a great need for more sports fields in our town for a long time,” said Sandy Barnett, founding team member of Independence and Carolina Crush Lacrosse and Chair of the Parks and Rec board for the Town of Mint Hill.
“We’ve been asking the town to bring us a project like this for years,” she added. “Many people have worked diligently to make this bond a reality.”
A full-size baseball stadium was specifically requested by the American Legion Baseball Program when the entire project was first brought to the town by Baucom.
“I saw a need for fields and an opportunity for the town to acquire land at half price with the assistance of a federal grant,” Baucom with the American Legion said. “I went to them and asked to make it happen, I also asked for a baseball stadium because the legion doesn’t have a big ball field for our high-school age teams. It took a long time, but we’re finally here ready to vote.”
“It’s so much more than just a place to play and watch sports though, these sport complexes will create community events for people to gather and have fun with their neighbors which creates harmony,” Baucom continued, “I see these new facilities as making the community better, while keeping our small town feel, that’s what I’m voting for.”
The plan shifted from a stadium that could seat 750 to one that could seat 2,500 when the opportunity to bring a collegiate summer league baseball team was brought up by an area businessman, Alain Lillie.
“I love baseball and the sense of community that comes with it. Everyone can go out and see a ball game,” Lillie said. “I want to bring the magic and nostalgia of baseball to Mint Hill while also contributing to a facility that can host a variety of other community events.”
Lille, who has lived in the Charlotte area for more than two decades, has plans to move to Mint Hill and would be thrilled to be part of something so big in the local community here, he said.
“Mint Hill is such a great town. The people are fantastic and to bring more opportunity for sports and community to them is great,” Lillie remarked. “Seeing a big, beautiful Town of Mint Hill sign from 485 overlooking a beautiful facility will be a wonderful way to showcase and advertise this incredible town.”
What about small businesses though?
Small business is the backbone of any community, according to Lillie, and he wants to do anything he can to help grow the local economic landscape. He expressed the desire to partner with as many Mint Hill businesses as possible for promotions.
Mint Hill is one of the fastest-growing, best suburbs to live in, according to many sources. The growth isn’t just in population, which has soared to almost 27,000 people according to the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau, but there about 2,500 firms (businesses) in town according to the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau.
“These facilities are going to encourage more positive growth for everyone in Mint Hill,” said Brad Simmons, owner of Logo Pros and member of the town’s planning board. “We will have more possibilities and opportunities to attract people here for big events like sport tournaments, concerts, festivals and of course, baseball games. All of which will directly or indirectly benefit the businesses here and create more economic growth, which benefits everyone.”
Any questions about Parks and Recreation bond can be answered directly by the Town Manager Brian Welch or by Town Engineer and Public Works Director Steve Frey, call 704-545-9726.
Early voting will began Oct. 17 and will run until Nov. 3 at the Mint Hill Library located at 6840 Matthews -Mint Hill Rd.