Published Monday, August 3, 2020 3:27 pm

Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post


Brandon Bellamy is the owner of Gastonia’s new Atlantic League baseball team, making him the only Black person to own a majority stake in a professional team at any level since 1987.

Gastonia is the home to a new baseball stadium and a piece of history.

The city last week announced an agreement with the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and a team by real estate developer Brandon Bellamy, the only black owner of a professional franchise. Gastonia and Bellamy, CEO of Velocity Companies Inc., will collaborate on economic development projects tied to the city’s 4,800-seat multi-use ballpark, including residential, retail, hotel, and office space. City leaders believe the project could result in $100 million in new investment.

The 5,000-seat city-owned stadium, which is under construction, cost $21.5 million. It will be ready for the Atlantic League’s 2021 season.

“When we learned of this incredible project, we realized it was an opportunity not just to own a team but also to connect with a community that deserves to be showcased,” said Bellamy, a North Carolina native whose Maryland-based Velocity Companies is a real estate development firm. “The city of Gastonia has a strong entrepreneurial history, and we are excited to be a part of its continued growth. We look forward to being a good neighbor and making a lasting impact in Gastonia.”

According to Baseball America, Bellamy is the first Black majority owner of a professional club since Tom Lewis owned the South Atlantic League’s Savannah Cardinals from 1986-87. The team will be Gastonia’s first professional franchise in nearly 30 years when it’s South Atlantic squad relocated to Hickory.

“We are excited to have Mr. Bellamy join us in our continued efforts to create a great place that our community can be proud of,” Gastonia Mayor Walker Reid III said. “This is a milestone for our city and an example of how public-private partnerships can revitalize a community, proving to be beneficial for everyone.”

The ballpark is part of an economic development area known as Franklin Urban Sports and Entertainment, or FUSE, District, which connects to downtown and creating a viable and attractive area for residents, visitors, and investors. Bellamy’s company has developed $500 million in projects. The stadium, which will be managed by the team, is under construction, will also host family-friendly events and athletic and entertainment events, including high school soccer and football. Gastonia will become the second North Carolina market with an Atlantic League site, joining High Point, whose team, the Rockers, joint the Atlantic League last year. Atlantic League teams play a 140-game schedule.

“We are delighted to bring Atlantic League baseball to Gastonia, a city that has shown tremendous ingenuity and resolve, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rick White, president of the eight-team Atlantic League said in a statement. “Under Mr. Bellamy’s ownership, this club and the ALPB will provide the community with best-in-class baseball and exceptional entertainment for years to come.”

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