Monday, January 14, 2013

Finally, Jerry Reese bows out

Charlotte and Mecklenburg County officials are surely celebrating today the end of Jerry Alan Reese's very long day in court. Moments ago, city attorney Bob Hagemann and county attorney Marvin Bethune announced that Reese, a Charlotte attorney, has agreed to drop an appeal of two lawsuits - his sixth and seventh - against the construction of an uptown baseball stadium. Reese also will withdraw an eighth lawsuit and promise not to file any others challenging the stadium.

The reason Reese is giving up? The city and county had asked Superior Court Judge W. David Lee for sanctions against Reese on the grounds that the sixth and seventh lawsuits were frivolous and "sought to relitigate issues that had already been decided by the court." Reese, by backing off, will avoid those sanctions.

Good. There once was a time when Reese asked legitimate questions to the courts about the city's and county's pursuit of minor league baseball in uptown. But when he didn't get the answers he wanted, he threw the equivalent of a legal tantrum, suing the city again and again until he had cost taxpayers more than $1.1 million.

Reese disagrees with this. He told me this afternoon that he would not file a frivolous lawsuit - "I pride myself on my professionalism" he said - and he has long contended he was suing Charlotte for the good of Charlotte.

City leaders, he believed, didn't think grandly enough about Charlotte's baseball and uptown possibilities. Reese, of course, had his own plan - a $4 billion project that included an uptown ballpark among dozens of acres of retail, offices and housing. He said he'd engaged in conversations with a Major League Baseball team, but he never was willing to provide convincing evidence that anyone in pro baseball had real interest in Charlotte.

The plan, however, was spectacular in its scope and detail. He rolled it out for me one day on a conference table at the Observer, then stepped back, beaming at it proudly. I thought then that he shared more with Charlotte leaders than they might want to admit. He believed his city should reach for bigger things. He thought self-doubt was unnecessarily holding us back.   

Reese still thinks so. "At the turn of this century, uptown Charlotte was poised to position itself as a major urban center," he said today. "That opportunity has passed as resources and opportunities have been wasted." He says he still believes in the concept of major league baseball in the Carolinas, and he continues to pursue that outside of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. "I guess time will tell," he said.  

We've long celebrated that kind of thinking in Charlotte. Visionary, we called it, and in some ways, Jerry Reese might have been. But visions ultimately need a partner, and for whatever reason - politics, practicality, or Reese himself - he never was close to finding one here. It took him far too long, at a cost to him and the city, to realize it.  Peter St. Onge


Wiley Coyote said...

"Visions ultimately need a partner"?

I guess that's why Mayor Fixxit couldn't pass his streetcar to nowhere.

This ballpark will be a hole for taxpayers.

kantstanzya said...

I remember a time when we thought we could have pro basketball in Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Reese was never putting any real details on the table (mainly because he never had any), and I'm not talking about his plans for the land either.

If he had an actual major league team having a real interest in Charlotte - trust me - the Charlotte Chamber, the Charlotte Center City Partners, The Charlotte Visitor's Authority would have not only supported his plan - but promoted it like, well, like the need to get the NASCAR Hall of Fame to Charlotte.

Not a single one of those entities have ever passed on the opportunity to declare that something was vital to Charlotte's future so long as they had a whiff of something they could sell! Even they knew Reese had nothing.

Ettolrahc said...

Thanks Jerry, just like back when they were looking at the problems with the Titanic they found a few who warned them of design flaws.

The same with our spending here in Charlotte, one day soon we will be looking at what happened.

Ross Brewer said...

because it's a great idea to spend public money on a private business that doesn't benefit the public.

money would have been better spent on a little league baseball park.

as much as suing the city made the guy look bad. he was one of the few reasonable adults in the room. since WHEN does minor league baseball create "tourism income" for our local economy. because people will go from the small towns who already have minor league baseball to the city to pay more for.....minor league baseball? no. It was money that should have been used for other things.

it's a horrible horrible horrible move for this city.

halbud said...

hey Jerry HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HEE HAW!YOU got PUNKED!!!!!

John said...


I love the way you people are talking about Reese as if he were standing up to the City over wasteful spending when, in fact, he was simply complaining that they weren't spending ENOUGH!

Read the article again folks... he opposed bringing the Knights to uptown ONLY because he wanted more spent to bring in a Major League team!

WashuOtaku said...

Wow, good news for once on the O-pinion. It's crazy he had up to seven lawsuits against the Knight's move back to Uptown. Yes, MLB would be nice, but this is BRAVES COUNTRY and I doubt they would give up the Carolinas easily. Not to mention Charlotte needs to prove first that it can support two national teams first before something like the MLB joins the pot.

Garth Vader said...

Nobody's ever "provided convincing evidence" that taxpayer-subsidized sports facilities provide any economic benefits. In fact all the credible research suggests quite the opposite. But of course that hasn't stopped the Morning Bugle from championing every taxpayer-subsidized bauble to come down the pike, from the Bobcats arena to the Whitewater Center to the NASCAR HOF to the Chiquita move.

dougie serb said...

It is about time! For all of those Jerry Reese backers, fans, believers and supporters, your hero has just left the building...for the LAST TIME!
Please understand that you were NEVER, EVER going to stop the Knights from moving to Uptown Charlotte of having a new baseball park built at Third Ward. All of us would like nothing more than to have a Major League Baseball team to call Charlotte their home, but financially it is just not feasible. If Jerry Reese acquires a Major League Baseball team, we'll all happily eat crow. I'm not looking for any bird recipes in the next 25 years...which by then will make Jerry Reese 86 years old. Hmmm, 86ing it, huh? How appropriate.

Chip Pleasant said...

Hey Wiley, the Streetcar is still getting built! It just isn't getting extended...yet.

Garth, are you still sore about BB&T Ballpark being constructed? Sorry, but if you're not looking to be in a progressive city, there's always Wadesboro, Gastonia, or Statesville. In fact, there are plenty of areas in Cackolacky for rednecks like you, with no drive or care for the future.
We won't miss you. The Ballpark gets built, Jerry Reese loses, and the Knights begin play in Charlotte next year...Play Ball!!!

Ettolrahc said...

Enjoy your toys, Chip.

Just do not look over the castle walls at the hard working peasants leaving the fields unattended and moving away.

I am sure these new folks moving in needing more free toys will be a lot of fun crammed in their with you.

Chip Pleasant said...

Thanks Ettolrahc,
Your poster name fits your backwards mentality of the old southerner. I'll enjoy ALL of the progress Charlotte has to offer. See, that is why they say "There is Charlotte, and then there is the rest of North Carolina." You have the opportunity to move anywhere else you like...but you can't stay here.
Or you can and enjoy a Knights ballgame in 2014. You can take the Lynx, or the Streetcar, or even use a rental bike in the Uptown area to get to the game. There are plenty of places to eat, drink and enjoy the Uptown area. Remember, smoking is neither permitted nor tolerated, either. Oh, and no guns, please.
Soon, the students from UNCC will be able to take the Lynx...and then the fun will really begin! Too bad you'll be out in Shelby, smoking it up, firing your guns, and waiting for the Klan meeting to begin...just before you go to church the next day.

Yes, we'll enjoy OUR Charlotte.

Garth Vader said...


How pathetic that you puff out your chest over a MINOR LEAGUE baseball team. (PS Gastonia has the Grizzlies anyway)

I invite you to deliver your insults at the time and place of your choosing. Time and place girlfriend, time and place. Bring your mother so you have a skirt to hide behind.