City and county leaders held a joint economic committee meeting on Wednesday to hear details about Project Break Point, a $400-million tennis center proposed for the fledgling River District in west Charlotte. Developers are asking the city and county to pitch in $132 million, or a third of the projected cost of the proposed project.
Developers stated their goals to host the Western & Southern Open, one of tennis’ most prestigious tournaments, at the 50-acre stadium and campus by 2026 on Wednesday, as well as to host more than 50 other tournaments at the collegiate, junior, and lower levels along with concerts, festivals, and corporate events.
Learn more: River District Construction Gets Underway
Charleston-based businessman Ben Navarro, founder of Beemok Capital, is behind the proposal. Navarro was a frontrunner in the race to buy the Carolina Panthers in 2018, one of the final two potential buyers to be considered alongside David Tepper.
In 2021, the Wall Street Journal published a profile of Navarro, who also founded Sherman Financial Group LLC, emphasizing that his company was one of the rare bill-collection agencies in the country that more aggressively squeezed debtors for cash during the pandemic rather than give borrowers a break, as most firms did.
Beemok Capital is asking that local elected leaders make a decision on whether to move forward with the public-private partnership by the end of summer.
Beemok owns all rights to the Western & Southern Open, which COO Ford Perry said on Wednesday will nearly double in size in 2025 from 56 players competing over eight days to 96 players competing over 14 days.
Perry is pitching an economic impact of around $275 million from the tournament alone, which is speculated to attract about 350,000 people.
The company announced in March that it was appointing Bob Moran to the newly created role of President of Beemok Sports and Entertainment to oversee both the Western & Southern Open as well as the Credit One Charleston Open.
Danny Morrison, executive director of the Charlotte Sports Foundation, originally brought the idea for the project to city and county leaders, according to assistant city manager Tracy Dodson.
“The mission of the Charlotte Sports Foundation is to bring high-profile sporting events to Charlotte that have economic impact and add to the quality of life, and this one does this and does extremely more. Not only does it bring a high-profile event but from a quality-of-life standpoint it adds something every single day.”
Both bodies of local government — the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners and Charlotte City Council — will discuss the project further in the coming months, though members of both bodies were in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting.
Charlotte City Council rep Ed Driggs said that he will be interested in looking at how much of the public money will come from taxpayers through the general fund and how much will come from hospitality taxes such as those levied on hotels and restaurants.
The city is already reportedly in discussions to propose a deal for a $1.2-billion project at Bank of America Stadium that will include renovations on the existing stadium and construction of a new practice facility nearby, paid for by hospitality taxes.
Charlotte City Council rep Malcolm Graham seemed to be referencing these discussions and others when he emphasized that the city has the ability to implement multiple investments at the same time on Wednesday. Graham said he was excited for the Break Point project, calling it an “ace,” using tennis parlance.
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