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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
HIGH POINT - High Point University's president will lead the city's effort to build a minor-league baseball stadium and develop the surrounding area.
Nido Qubein announced Wednesday that by mid-September he will raise $38 million from private donors to build projects that will bring visitors downtown year-round. Those projects could include an events center, a children's museum and a park.
Qubein also said he will lead efforts to secure naming rights for the stadium and attract a baseball team to play there.
Qubein, who will remain at the university that he has led since 2005, has lived in High Point for much of his adult life. He said he agreed to lead the stadium effort after being asked by Forward High Point, the new nonprofit charged with revitalizing downtown. This group also is behind the ballpark project.
"High Point has been my chosen home for nearly 50 years. I am happy here, and I love my city," Qubein said in a statement. "I have no financial interest or stake in this development project in any way. My sole interest is helping High Point thrive."
High Point City Council last month approved a plan to buy four square blocks in downtown and build a $30 million stadium.
The 10-acre stadium property is bordered by North Elm Street, Gatewood Avenue, Lindsay Street and West English Road. It's a few blocks north of the city's furniture showrooms.
The stadium will seat about 5,000 people for baseball games and about 7,500 for concerts and other events. Project leaders say they hope to have it open in 2019.
The city said the project won't lead to a tax increase or affect High Point's bond rating. Media reports say the city expects to recoup the cost of the project through stadium revenues - rental and parking fees, the team's annual lease and naming rights - and increased property taxes collected from new development nearby.
The city has not yet lined up a team to play at the stadium but reportedly has interest from the Atlantic League, an eight-team professional baseball league that's not affiliated with Major League Baseball.
City leaders envision the stadium as a catalyst for other commercial and residential projects in downtown High Point.
Qubein's announcement came at the annual meeting of the High Point Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Contact John Newsom at 336-373-7312 and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.
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