The city’s newly formed Sports Development Committee, appointed by the board of commissioners to study the project, learned the Mooresville plan calls for 25 baseball fields to attract baseball tournaments to that region, primarily during the late spring and early summer.
The Mount Airy proposal, which would be built on a former landfill site at City View Drive, would offer a much more versatile array of uses, targeting baseball, softball, soccer, and possibly even lacrosse tournaments. And the city envisions the field being used much of the year.
Now the city’s challenge is to push forward, balancing quick action to head off the potential for other facilities to be built in the region, with deliberate, measured consideration for each step to do the job right.
The city also must come up with a way to pay the potential $6 million to $7 million project cost.
We support the city’s plan to study the measure, and the project’s concept. It would seem to be a good move for Mount Airy, giving it a venue which would attract hundreds — more likely thousands — of families to the area each year. That could be a big payoff for city and county merchants and further diversify the local tourist industry.
But, we caution that even the best of plans should not be pursued if it would result in an increase in local tax rates or other fees to city residents in order to finance the construction. If economic times were better, without so many area residents struggling, a short-term tax or fee increase for such a project might be in order, but this would not be the time for such a move.
We do wonder, however, how much more viable such a project might become if Surry County officials, who had expressed great interest in the project initially, would come back to the table as a full partner in the project. Many county businesses would stand to benefit, and that regional support would surely look attractive to potential grant sources.