Real estate attorney Jerry Alan Reese has tried for years to stop the construction of a new minor league ballpark by questioning various aspects of collaborations between the team and local government. In doing so he believed major league baseball would ultimately land in the Queen City but his quest ended Monday.
In a settlement accepted by County Attorney Marvin Bethune and City Attorney Bob Hagemann on behalf of Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte, Reese agreed to drop his appeal in these two lawsuits and to dismiss an eighth lawsuit. Reese also agreed not to file any more lawsuits related to the baseball stadium.
“There is no doubt that Reese’s lawsuits caused a significant delay in the joint City and County goal of bringing the Knights to Center City Charlotte,” Hagemann said. “But we are pleased that this matter is finally concluded and that the decisions of our elected leaders will now be carried forward.”
Even before Monday’s decision, the Knights had already broken ground on what will become BB&T Ballpark that is on target to open in 15 months. You can see the live webcam of the construction site here.
“We are certainly pleased by the court’s ruling to award sanctions against Mr. Reese and thus ending these very costly, lengthy and frivolous lawsuits,” stated Charlotte Knights Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski in a release. “These lawsuits didn’t deter our organization from doing what was right for our team, our fans and the community. We continue to focus our efforts on constructing one of the finest Class Triple-A franchises and look forward to our opening of BB&T Ballpark in April of 2014.”
Reese finally backed away because he was threatened with sanctions by Superior Court Judge W. David Lee on the grounds that these last two lawsuits were frivolous, filed for an improper purpose, and sought to relitigate issues that had already been decided by the court. Those two suits were the sixth and seventh filed by Reese.
There were claims by Reese that he had spoken to a major league club about moving to Charlotte but since the first filing back in 2007 he never identified the team. Of the 30 big league franchises, only two have stadium issues, the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays, the latter tied into a binding lease through the year 2027. The A’s are reported to be seeking a five-year extension of their current lease hoping they can work toward a new ballpark.
Each of the first five lawsuits were thrown out of court and upheld on appeal and the eighth would have added to more than $1 million in legal costs already incurred by the city.
“While we certainly respect our citizens’ right to challenge governmental decisions in court when there is a legitimate legal claim, we believe that Mr. Reese finally crossed the line,” Bethune said.