Lowe’s Motor Speedway officials gave Concord and Cabarrus County officials plenty to be thankful for on the eve of Thanksgiving, announcing plans to keep the NASCAR track in Concord.
By Eric C. Deines
CONCORD – Lowe’s Motor Speedway officials confirmed late Wednesday that Speedway Motorsports CEO Bruton Smith had agreed in principle to keep the track in the city.
Details of the agreement will be released at news conference at 2 p.m. Monday at the speedway, said Keith Waltz, senior manager of public relations with the speedway.
Smith’s agreement comes with an incentive package that county officials have been at work on over the last couple of weeks to assist with major improvements to or around the track.
A source close to the incentive talks said the incentive package would be worth about $80 million and that it would be paid in two portions – $60 million now and $20 million in 36 months.
The $60 million would be shared between the city and the county, said County Chairman Bob Carruth, and would go toward road improvements around the speedway.
The $20 million, Carruth said, is planned to come from the state in two or three years.
Concord Mayor Padgett said Smith’s announcement was a giant relief to all involved, as he credited local and state officials.
“It took every one of those to make the pieces fit,” Padgett said. “We can be assured that our reputation as a leader in motor sports is not only solidified, but expanded.”
John Cox, CEO of the Cabarrus Economic Development Corp., credited elected officials with a “well-lead collective effort” to keep the track.
Though funding sources for the incentives have not been officially determined, the source close to the talks said that the incentives would likely be funded through a bond that would be paid off using a transportation sales tax.
Cabarrus officials have been working to keep Smith from moving the speedway facility after Concord voted to block a $60 million drag strip planned for the speedway.
After the vote, Smith said he would spend $350 million to move the entire speedway facility elsewhere in the Charlotte region, prompting Concord to reverse its decision. But by that time, Smith said he had unforeseen options available to move the track.
The offer sent to Smith likely includes incentivised items that were listed in an e-mail to the Cabarrus Board of County Commissioners two weeks ago and estimated to be worth $75 million at the time.
Smith reviewed an offer from officials on Nov. 14 and requested more work be done on the list, officials have said.
Since that time, a series of meetings involving city, county and state officials has taken place to fine-tune the project list, which includes items such as the widening of U.S. 29, the realignment of Morehead Road and $2 million in noise-abatement measures for the proposed drag strip.
Speedway officials and local officials said that a $200 million upgrade, which includes improvement to suites, is needed at the track.
• Contact Eric C. Deines: 704-789-9141