BUZZ: Bill supporting Catawba land deal moves ahead; Honey Hunters debut – Charlotte Business Journal – Charlotte Business Journal

By Jen Wilson

 –  Associate Editor, Charlotte Business Journal

The Catawba Indian Nation has received more good news as momentum builds for the development of the tribe’s Two Kings Casino Resort off Interstate 85 in Kings Mountain. The Rock Hill Herald reports a bill passed the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources on Wednesday ratifying action taken in July 2020 by the Interior Department that allowed 17 acres in Cleveland County to be placed into a trust for the benefit of the Catawbas. 

The House panel’s action follows a rush of activity this spring spurring development plans for the $273 million casino resort project on the site. In April, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected a lawsuit brought by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to stop the casino plan. And in late March, the federal government approved the tribe’s Class III gaming compact with the state, cementing the tribe’s ability to allow casino-style gambling. A day later, the tribe announced it would open a “pre-launch facility” including 500 slot machines at the site this summer. That facility will create 200 jobs, the tribe claims.

A full first phase of the project is expected to open in early 2022 with an additional 1,300 slot machines.

The House committee’s action on the Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act sets the stage for a full House vote that would give the Interior Department’s decision the full force of federal law. Reps. James Clyburn, Joe Wilson and William Timmons of South Carolina and Reps. David Price and G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina sponsored the bill that was filed March 8.

The Rock Hill-based Catawbas sought the land in North Carolina, where it claims historic ties, because South Carolina does not allow casino gaming. A provision in the 1993 agreement that gave the Catawba tribe federal recognition also gave the tribe “service area” in six North Carolina counties, including Mecklenburg and Cleveland, the Herald reports.

In other local news:

The debut of the Gastonia Honey Hunters and the CaroMont Health Park ballpark tonight has gained some serious star power. NBA Hall of Famer and business titan Earvin “Magic” Johnson will take part in opening ceremonies for the minor-league baseball franchise that starts at 6 p.m.

Team owner Brandon Bellamy and Johnson are business partners in the Momentus Hospitality Group, which will handle food and beverage operations at Gastonia’s new $26 million ballpark. That ballpark is the centerpiece of a downtown mixed-use development.

The Honey Hunters’ first game against the Lancaster Barnstormers starts at 6:50 p.m. Tickets are available at the CaroMont Health Park box office, as well as the team website at The Gaston Gazette reports that box seats are sold out for Thursday’s contest, but general admission tickets remain available.

CBJ staff writer Collin Huguley reported last week that the Honey Hunters will cap attendance at 2,000 fans for each game at CaroMont Health Park during this first homestand, which runs through Sunday. “We want to make sure there is still an opportunity for social distancing and want to still provide an opportunity for fans to feel comfortable and feel safe,” said David Martin, the Honey Hunters’ chief operating officer. “It will also give us an opportunity to iron out the bugs that we all know we are going to experience when opening a new building.”

Martin said the team had planned to accommodate only 2,000 fans to start the season for months due to uncertainty about how long restrictions would last. The stadium can hold 5,000 fans at full capacity.

Also, in Charlotte: The Trust for Public Land says the ranking of the park system for Charlotte/Mecklenburg has improved slightly. In its annual ranking of park systems for the 100 largest U.S. cities, Charlotte/Mecklenburg placed 91st this year after finishing 95th in 2020. Charlotte/Mecklenburg’s climb resulted mostly from increased park investment. Charlotte/Mecklenburg invested $70 per person in parks in 2021, ahead of last year’s $56 per person investment but still below the national ParkScore average of $96. The city also received above-average marks for park acreage.

Washington, D.C., was rated the nation’s best park system on the organization’s annual ParkScore index. The city edged ahead of Saint Paul, Minnesota, followed closely by third-place Minneapolis, which held the top spot in 2020.

And: Bank of America Corp.’s Brian Moynihan and Wells Fargo’s Charlie Scharf joined the CEOs of the nation’s other four largest banks for a grilling in front of the Senate Banking Committee. The bank execs were on hand to discuss their companies’ response to the pandemic. But other questions emerged. The Wall Street Journal reports that Sen. Tim Scott (R., S.C.) pressed the CEOs to explain why some of their firms or executives signed a recent statement that expressed opposition to Republican-led voting bills in Georgia and other states. Asked what specific portions of the Georgia law they objected to, none of the executives responded. “It came out of our teammates…expressing grave concern,” Moynihan said, per that report.

Yesterday’s top-read story on the CBJ website: Credit Karma to expand Charlotte operation with $13M-plus investment, 600 new jobs

In the national news:

And among the top-read stories across the network is this piece from the San Francisco Business Times: San Francisco’s unsellable mansion has finally sold


Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffrey will be an honorary pace-car driver at the upcoming Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The Charlotte Sports Foundation has lined up rival football teams from two historically black colleges and universities in North Carolina for future games at Bank of America Stadium.

And the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship is taking place this week at Truist Field, the uptown home of the Charlotte Knights.

This week and beyond:

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