It could boost local youth teams and save them money by bringing their tournaments to the Bull City.
It could result in the improvement or the development of sports facilities. And it could generate an estimated $2.6 million in local sales and hotel and motel occupancy tax revenues in the first three years.
Those are the some of the benefits being touted for creating a Durham Sports Commission, a nonprofit entity that would focus on promoting sports events and related tourism in the Bull City.
For nearly two years, a task force has been meeting to discuss creating the organization to attract and host professional, collegiate, amateur and youth sporting events and activities.
But before the idea becomes a reality, city and county leaders have to buy into the proposal and agree to help pay for it.
Last week, Casey Steinbacher, former president of the Durham Chamber of Commerce, and Shelly Green, president of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, presented the path for the development of the commission developed by the task force. The task force includes representatives from the city, county, Chamber of Commerce, the Visitors Bureau, Duke University and N.C. Central University.
The program would be funded by the city, county and private funding through sponsorships and underwriting for events.
Under the proposal, the city and county would initially dedicate 33 percent of the growth in occupancy taxes – a 6 percent tax on hotel, motel and similar room rentals – created by the Durham Sports Commission in the first year.
In year one, the Sports Commission’s budget would start at $308,450 and grow to about $594,973, according to initial projections in a report on the proposal.
Under the proposal, the Sports Commission would be governed by a nine-member board of directors appointed by city, county and Chamber of Commerce representatives.
The commission would also establish an advisory board composed of various representatives of sports entities and service providers to support and provide insight into the recruitment and formation of events. The commission would be operated by the Convention and Visitors Bureau through a three-year contract.
The commission could be operational as soon as 120 days after it’s approved by the City Council, county commissioners, and the board of directors for the Visitors Bureau. The process includes submitting an application for nonprofit status and writing bylaws.
The Sports Commission would define a strategy for bringing in tourism and asses Durham’s current needs in terms capacity of local facilities.
“We are going to be looking at a combination of kind of growing some of our own events here as well as bringing some outside events,” Green said.
The commission would also develop guidelines for private companies to provide incentive sponsorships and underwrite sports events.
County Manager Wendell Davis said currently the county dedicates occupancy tax revenue to pay debt service and officials would need to have a policy discussion and explore the potential impacts of dedicating some of the funds to the Sports Commission.
Next step for the proposal includes going before the Joint City-Council Planning Committee in October or November.
County Commissioner Wendy Jacobs said she hopes the proposal moves forward quickly, pointing out that many events float by the area because a local entity can’t bid on them.
“I just really want to emphasize the importance of the bid piece,” she said. “That is what you see with Raleigh, with Charlotte, with Greensboro. ... We do not have that. We are literally losing out.”
About the occupancy tax
Durham County levies a 6 percent tax on gross receipts derived from the rental of any room, lodging or accommodation furnished by a hotel, motel, inn or similar place within the county. Here is how the tax is split
▪ 2 percent goes to the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau
▪ 1 percent goes to debt service for the Durham Performing Arts Center and the Museum and Life and Science
▪ The city and county split the remaining 3 percent. The City gets 42.5 percent and the county gets 57.5 percent of that split.