By: Felipe Rivas
2 min read February 2020 — The Queen City is teeming with sports activity. It is host to NASCAR, the NBA and NFL, and closed the decade with a new MLS team. Not too far behind stand the Charlotte Knights, the region’s minor league baseball team. The Knights have led the country in fan attendance four out of the six years they have played in Charlotte. The loyal fan base and consistent attendance numbers can be attributed to affordable ticket prices, a family environment, and a centrally located ballpark, Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski told Invest: Charlotte. For 2020, the Knights plan to host several Republican National Convention-related events and concerts to maximize the use of their ballpark.
How has the local sports scene evolved in the last few years?
We have had tremendous success in Charlotte since we opened in 2014. We have led the country in minor league attendance four out of the six years we have been here. We are in a vibrant and growing market with a youthful demographic. Coming into the market from South Carolina, and bringing another 650,000 people into Center City, is creating tourism for different parts of the county. The Charlotte Knights produce an economic impact of close to $50 million a year. The region has NASCAR, NBA, NFL, major golf tournaments, other minor league teams, and now professional soccer. Charlotte has created a great hotbed for professional sports, while amateur sports are also enjoying growth. All this is largely thanks to the initiatives of city and hospitality leaders. They are very aggressive in trying to get sports teams to the region and making sure they stay
What are the benefits of being located in Center City?
Our ballpark is gorgeous. There are very few ballparks that have our skyline view, and fans can easily get to the park. Our affordability is important, especially in minor league baseball. While there are many options for fans, with different levels of ticketing, with us, they can get a ticket for $10 or $12 and enjoy the game. Some major league sports games are not as affordable as minor league baseball. We offer a great product that is not necessarily driven by wins or losses. We drive our fan base by promoting the experience, whether it be through a fireworks show, giveaways or on-field contests. We try to create an atmosphere of nine innings of fun. Being located in Center City, with its vibrancy, and the population base that is in this core, as long as you provide a good product people will continue to come.
How are you collaborating with the local business community?
We are heavily involved with the business community as all sports teams in the city are. Charlotte has a tremendous business community. There are several organizations that work closely to improve the city and the business community gets that. We are fortunate to have wonderful corporate leaders across sectors that step forward when there are initiatives out there that relate to the community. We feel we need to be active in the community. That means donating time, money and resources. We have the ability to bring underprivileged kids to the ballpark and give them a great experience with professional athletes. As a sports organization, you have to position yourself to make an impact in the community that other people may not be able to make.
What can fans expect from the Charlotte Knights in 2020?
We have 70 games a year. We also host college baseball games. In 2020, we will host the ACC baseball tournament. This year, we will host a number of events related to the Republican National Convention. In the fall, we plan to host a few concerts as well. We will continue to improve our brand and keep prices affordable. We want to be creative, but always give people three hours of a fun experience.”
To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://www.milb.com/charlotte-knights