Eastern Wake News

County defers first Naismith Legacy Park deadline

Since funding was approved by Wake County commissioners last August, the $10 million Naismith Legacy Park has hit a delay.

On Dec. 31, the town of Knightdale and the Matthews-based Naismith Legacy group requested an extension of the county’s February deadline for property acquisition, which was approved by commissioners on Jan. 20.

In a Jan. 5 letter to commissioners from Damon Fogal, Naismith Legacy CEO, he said that the town needed more time to survey and zone the land that they are in the process of donating to the foundation.

The land to be donated for the park includes 170 acres currently owned by Wake Stone Corporation on the corner of Forestville Road and Old Crews Road. Wake Stone agreed to donate the land, valued at about $4 million, to the town in March, 2014, and once the project is funded the town would like to pursue a lease with Naismith.

Town manager Seth Lawless, in his letter to county commissioners, asked to extend the deadline for transferring the property to July, 2015. Fogal said moving that deadline would dovetail with financial deadlines set by the county.

Lawless said in an interview that the town’s progress would be dependent on the financial commitment from Naismith.

“It doesn’t make sense to transfer property unless we know that the project is going forward,” Lawless said.

In addition to acquiring land, Naismith has to determine a funding agreement and receive full financial commitment by July 2015. By Feb. 2016, they need to collect $5 million from investors for the county to contribute their commitment. Right now the organization is starting their fundraising campaign, Fogal said. Their business plan is complete, he added.

The county selected the Naismith project, and one other, from among 10 proposals seeking money from the county’s food and beverage tax fund. Naismith requested $3 million – the county’s funding limit – which the board approved.

At the future park, two so-called basketball villages will include 18 fieldhouses and facilities for youth basketball camps. Much of the park’s revenue will come from an 11-week summer tournament that the park will host in its inaugural year, inviting 250 teams from around the world.

The athletic facility is projected to have a $9.7 million annual economic impact, including $3.2 million in taxes.