Independent Tribune – Intimidators get hot at right timeNews, Top Officials continue fine-tuning speedway incentives package

Officials continue fine-tuning speedway incentives package


By Eric C. Deines
[email protected]
Concord and Cabarrus County officials continue to fine-tune the $80 million incentive agreement proposed for Speedway Motorsports Inc. that will make for major road improvements around its Concord racetrack.

County Chairman Jay White called the discussions “wordsmithing” the agreement, which must be approved by all three parties — SMI, Concord City Council and the Cabarrus Board of County Commissioners.

White said another meeting between Concord and Cabarrus County is planned for next week, but it is unknown whether or not the document will be complete.

While Concord and Cabarrus will share in $60 million of the incentive, officials said the state would pay the remaining $20 million.

“The agreement is a three-part agreement, and it’s just really important that we be as specific as possible so there will be no misunderstanding,” said Concord Mayor Scott Padgett.

Padgett would not say how the city and county planned to finance their portion of the incentive.

Padgett said the state’s contribution would likely come as reimbursement for a project, such as the extension of George Liles Parkway.

That project is on the N.C. Department of Transportation list of approved projects, but it is not slated for construction for some time. Concord and the county would expedite construction to be refunded by the state.

White also said this is likely how the state’s contribution would take form.

“I’d be surprised if the state said, ‘Here’s $20 million,’” White said.

Some of the proposed projects included in the incentives are:

• a realignment of both Bruton Smith Boulevard and Morehead Road near Lowe’s Motor Speedway;
• pedestrian tunnels to the speedway beneath U.S. 29;
• a replacement of Rocky River Bridge on U.S. 29; and
• the extension of George Liles Parkway.

“None of those improvements are final,” Padgett said.

The city and Cabarrus County agreed to make $80 million in infrastructure improvements around the speedway after Speedway Motorsports CEO Bruton Smith said he would move the facility out of Concord.

Smith’s comments were in reaction to a skirmish with Concord over the $60 million drag strip that is currently near completion at the speedway.

White said that while the improvements to the roads around Lowe’s Motor Speedway would certainly be helpful to the facility, they would also be beneficial for residents traveling to and from Charlotte.

• Contact Eric C. Deines: 704-789-9141.

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