Up & Coming Weekly

May 28, 2019

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 10 of 32

10 UCW MAY 29-JUNE 4, 2019 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM Downtown Fayetteville business owners have high hopes for the impact of professional baseball on local commerce. ose Up & Com- ing Weekly have spoken with seem to agree Segra Stadium is a good thing for business. at, of course, was the hope of Fayetteville City Council when it decided to put together a $40 million business plan to build the ballpark and entertainment venue. "In many ways, the stadium is delivering the audience, but it's up to the business owners to entice attend- ees to come in the door," said former Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne. He knows the downtown market as well as anyone. Chavonne lives on Person Street in a house that would be thought of anywhere else as a two- story row house. "Early business reports are some- what mixed as we all try to figure it out," Chavonne added. "ere's a lot of continued excitement right now with the new stadium. We expect that to die down some as people get into more of a routine." Merchants tend to be optimistic because of the new ballpark and the thousands of downtown visitors it has drawn. "We love the stadium and hope with time that more ballpark fans become downtown customers," said merchant Molly Arnold. She and her husband have owned two downtown businesses for many years, including Rude Awakening Coffee House at 227 Hay St. However, dozens of merchants showed up at City Hall earlier this month to complain that city govern- ment had made hasty decisions, which city manager Doug Hewett acknowledged need work. "We hope to come back with a larger and more comprehensive parking management program late in 2019 early in 2020," he said at that meeting. at's months away, and Arnold suspects delays will be a problem. "We are hoping that City Council rec- ognizes the need to also stop charging in (parking) lots, at the least," she said. Chavonne agreed, saying, "Many are avoiding the city paid parking lots and find abundant free parking in other parts of the city." Without saying so directly, Arnold suggested that merchants may have the answers. She said newcomers who come downtown for ballgames wonder about the police presence. "We hear that the regular blocking of Hay Street and the flashing blue lights is off-putting to people," she said. e city blocks off Hay Street be- tween Ray Avenue and Pittman Street for pedestrians and stations police cars at each end. "I am still amazed with folks' concerns on security," Chavonne noted, recalling his eight years as mayor. "We are encouraged" about the future, said Laura Laycock, store man- ager of Center City Gallery & Books at 112 Hay St. She said she has seen an increase in pedestrian traffic in recent weeks. e store closes at 6 p.m. on weekdays, but weekend afternoon games seem to generate traffic. Asked if owners Diane and Hank Parfitt have considered staying open later, Lay- cock said, "We've talked about it." Downtown merchants cautiously optimistic about parking options by JEFF THOMPSON NEWS Downtown merchants are eager for a solution to the paid parking issue. VICTORY MEANS A LITTLE MORE HERE For five years the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (FACVB) has been using a simple slogan to promote the communities of Cumberland County as a sports destination: "Victory means a little more here." Not only is that the FACVB's way of paying homage to our Fort Bragg veterans and their service to our country, but to all the sports history that has been made here, to all the teams and players who have called Cumberland County "home," and to the vast array of sports tournaments we host year-round. Recently, the Fayetteville SwampDogs have also been bragging on Fayetteville—even calling it "the baseball capitol of the Carolinas"— because you can pretty much pick any night this summer and find a game going on somewhere. With about 100 baseball games to choose from this season—between our beloved SwampDogs' col- legiate team and our brand-new Fayetteville Woodpeckers' minor league team—I tend to agree with that assessment. Fayetteville's baseball history goes back over 150 years now. In fact, the first baseball game (as we know it) played in Fayetteville occurred in 1867, according to the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum. This museum has set about collecting baseball artifacts and other treasures from our own community for a special exhibit that focuses on just our local history—coinciding perfectly with our Fayetteville Woodpeckers' inaugural season. My coworker and I were lucky enough to be given a sneak peek of the exhibit, and immediately, we noticed the Fayetteville Woodpeckers' home uniform and cap on display—an appropriate homage to our most recent history makers. I won't give away any other surprises about this exhibit, but for anyone who appreciates sports history, Baseball in Fayetteville is a must see. -- JENNY BELL, GOFAYETTEVILLE BLOGGER Read the rest at GoFayetteville.com ABOUT THE AUTHOR Melody Foote Director of Communications Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau B U L L E T I N Download a mobile app for exploring Cumberland County.

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