SHELBY, NC (WBTV) - Former Carolina Panthers player Willie Green gave a presentation to Cleveland County Commissioners Tuesday night regarding his plans to build a new athletics facility in Shelby.
Green, a wide receiver for the Panthers and three other teams during the 90s, has already started renovating a historic school building on Hudson Street in Shelby. He has painted the gymnasium and converted it into a multi-purpose room where student-athletes can train and workout. There is sports equipment available and turf has been installed throughout the gym.
"We worked seven days a week. We worked Sunday through Monday to get it up," said Green about facility.
The building is now called the Carolina Athletic Sports Academy, and local youth sports teams have started using it to hold practice. Green is looking to expand on the idea.
"This could create that next Super Bowl player, that next All-American, this could create a lot more opportunity," Green elaborated.
He has already purchased 16 acres of land off Highway 74 right next to Shelby High School. He wants to use the property to construct a new sports complex. He has blueprints drawn out for what the facility could look like. It would house courts for basketball and volleyball as well as space for other activities like martial arts.
Green said that local teams could utilize the space during the week and the facility would be used to host travel tournaments on the weekends.
"It will recruit more student-athletes to hopefully come. It will recruit more residents to move to Cleveland County," said Green.
He thinks the facility could bring a lot of money to the region once tournaments are scheduled and various sports teams are traveling to Shelby for events.
Green is hoping the Cleveland County Commissioners will be willing to participate in a public-private partnership to help construct the facility. He thinks it could cost around six or seven million dollars.
"We have the drawing. We're ready to go as far as the building. It's now just working out the details – making sure we're following all the North Carolina legislative compliances," said Green.
Eddie Holbrook, Chairman of the Cleveland County Commissioners, said the elected leaders are open to Green's idea.
"The dream is excellent. The county's interested in it. It certainly enhances the quality of life for our people so it's just something we've got to work through," said Holbrook.
Green said he is not ready to divulge how much public money he is looking for in this endeavor, but said he will be transparent with the community as the discussion progresses.
"I want to make sure that everyone in Cleveland County who pays taxes knows exactly where their money is going, knows exactly what they're going to get back from it," said Green.
He said he would like to break ground within a few months, but knows the process of negotiating with city leaders will take time.