Eastern Wake News

Naismith project gets county funding

County commissioners voted to partially fund a proposed basketball facility in Knightdale that is expected to have over a $9 million economic impact.

The $10 million Naismith Legacy Park will initially receive $1.5 million from the county and can receive an additional $1.5 million if project managers fulfill certain conditions.

The $3 million is the maximum amount of money the county will dedicate toward any project looking to be funded through a $6 million pool from taxes on hotels and food for projects that would benefit Wake County’s tourism industry.

In the original proposal to the county, the Naismith Legacy Group, based in Matthews, said the rest of the money will come from private donations.

To receive the county’s $3 million though, the group must have commitments for the rest of that money, a complete business plan and a site in the county by June 30, 2015.

If those conditions are not fulfilled by the deadline, the county can take the entire $3 million back to commit to a different project.

Space condition already filled

The town of Knightdale though, has made it clear that as long as the Naismith group can secure the funding, they will have the space for them.

In March, Wake Stone agreed to donate 140 acres of land at the corner of Forestville and Old Crews roads to the town. The town council then approved a deal to enter into “appropriate agreements” to allow Naismith to build a basketball facility on the land, the agreement said.

The agreement also said Knightdale’s financial involvement will be limited to providing the land for use by the Naismith group on “reasonable terms and conditions.”

Knightdale Town Manager Seth Lawless said the land hasn’t actally been donated and the land does not yet belong to the Naismith Legacy Group. He said all parties were waiting to see how the county would decide before moving forward.

Missing the money mark

While the Naismith group did not give the county a complete business plan, there were some basic services and programs outlined in early presentations.

The park will include two “basketball villages” with 18 fieldhouses and overnight accommodations for summer youth basketball camp participants.

In its first year, it will host an 11-week summer tournament involving more than 250 teams from around the world.

The event, called the “Naismith Legacy Shootout,” according to a presentation made to county commissioners in March, is modeled after a youth basketball tournament at Cooperstown Dream Park in New York.

That tournament is where the bulk of the project’s revenue will come from, which is an important consideration in the county’s decision to fund the project.

The county was looking for projects that could have at least $10 million in annual economic impact, 10,000 or more nights booked in local hotels and at least $900,000 in tax revenues.

Several other projects, including money for N.C. State’s Gregg Museum and an athletic complex in Holly Springs, lost out on county money because the projected economic impact was too far below the expectation.

Holly Springs, however, has already said the project will continue with or without county funding.

The Naismith facility is projected to generate about $9.7 million in annual economic impact, about 33,000 hotel stays and about $3.2 million in taxes (which can include sales, food and beverage tax and occupancy taxes).

In addition to the Naismith project, commissioners approved $3 million for the Ammons-Wake Competition Center in Morrisville, which will feature two NHL-size ice rinks, a volleyball court and gymnastics facility.