A Charlotte church has bought the former Charlotte Hornets training center to house a second campus as it looks to expand its ministry into York County.
LifePointe Christian Church closed on the building Thursday, lead pastor Matt McGue said.
"I think the venue has a lot of opportunity to reach and touch the community," he said of the 68,100 square-foot building next to Knights Stadium just off I-77 on Deerfield Road.
"It's really our vision as a church expanding down into Fort Mill, Rock Hill."
The building, built in 1994, was used for practice by the Hornets until the team left for New Orleans in 2002. It was later briefly used by the expansion Charlotte Bobcats, but has been vacant in recent years as the team sought a buyer. LifePointe had been interested in the building for about a year, McGue said.
The church has a few hundred members, McGue said, about a third of whom live in York County. "That's why we've had such an interest in expanding in that direction," he said.
Fort Mill's Tammy Gaston, 36, has been a member of the church for four years, making the 30-minute drive every Sunday to the current location at Southwest Middle School in Charlotte.
"That's a commitment to make on a Sunday morning when you're trying to get your family up and moving," she said. "Having a church closer to home... I think that's exciting."
Gaston said she's excited that the new location will make it easier to invite friends who might be turned off by a long drive into Charlotte. She sees strong potential for the church to become an active contributor to the community.
"We want people to be able to come there seven days a week to worship and play and just live life," she said.
McGue said that fits perfectly with the church's vision for the building.
"We were looking for a facility that would actually be used as a community center, and not just a church," he said.
The church plans to starting using the building for services March 22, McGue said.
McGue declined to say how much the church paid for the building. The property is valued at more than $4.3 million, but Bobcats owner Bob Johnson bought it at auction in 2003 for $2.6 million.