The Gastonia Honey Hunters minor league baseball team has been booted from its league after failing to pay $1.1 million in franchise fees, a lawsuit says.
And the city wants the team out of its stadium, after discovering grungy restroom sinks, toilets, windows and urinals and other neglect in the kitchen and across the grounds this year.
“Virtually every public-facing or public-use component of the premises was in woeful condition after what appears to have been months of maintenance neglect in the off-season, according to the lawsuit filed by the city in Gaston County Superior Court on Nov. 17. “To say nothing of ongoing issues arising during the season.”
The city sued the team after learning the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball had parted ways with the Honey Hunters on Nov. 13, city officials said in the lawsuit.
In an email to The Charlotte Observer on Friday, league president Rick White confirmed the league terminated the membership of NC Gas House Gang LLC, which he said does business as the Gastonia Honey Hunters.
White did not say why but the city’s lawsuit details what city officials say have been repeated late payments by the team to the league and the amount it still owes.
Brandon Bellamy, CEO of the Velocity Companies, a Maryland-based developer, is the team’s owner, the Charlotte Observer reported in in 2021 when the team unveiled its name and logos. reported.
The team and its LLC have retained legal counsel to address the lawsuit, Veronica Jeon, Honey Hunters chief operating officer told the Observer on Friday.
“Given that this is a legal affair and out of respect for the privacy of all the parties involved, we are limited in what information we can share at this current time,” Jeon said in an email.
“However, we look forward to providing additional information as soon as we can,” Jeon said. “We thank everyone for the continued support.”
“Troubling pattern of improper maintenance”
Among other claims in the lawsuit:
The city inspection this year revealed that kitchen and cooking equipment had the “most egregious” maintenance issues.
Maintenance problems also were found with the concourse concrete, concession equipment, the keg and reach-in coolers, stadium storage rooms, the premium-level bar area, stadium windows and doors, an elevator and the seating bowl, according to the complaint.
Mold formed in the first aid room due to an unattended leak, officials said in the lawsuit.
The area behind the first-base dugout was in disrepair, and excessive trash accumulated behind the ADA lifts in both dugouts, according to the lawsuit.
“This is not cosmetic criticism, but rather (a) troubling pattern of improper maintenance which will diminish the life expectancy and value of the premises,” according to the lawsuit.
Despite the legal wrangling, good news awaits fans of America’s past-time in Gastonia.
The Atlantic League intends to field a team in Gastonia in 2024, White said.
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