The High Point stadium project and its attendant discussion has set up one of those most rare instances in the physical world: an irresistible force meeting an immovable object.
Cast as the immovable object, the Guilford County Commission acted predictably in spurning the deal, which would have the county forego any extra tax revenue for the next 20 years from the project. It’s a $30 million arena on $15 million worth of land encompassing about 650 acres, the most significant investment outside of furniture showrooms and High Point University the city has seen in years.
Playing the role of the irresistible force is Nido Qubein, charismatic president of High Point University and architect of the deal.
Qubein, who has transformed his corner of the city into a purple wonderland, has put together a pretty sweet one: He’s already raised $50 million of the $45 million price tag and secured a team from the Atlantic League — a AAA league, a couple steps below the majors and several notches above both the Greensboro Grasshoppers and the Winston-Salem Dash. He’s got commitments to build apartments and a $50 million events center and children’s museum. Roy Carroll has pledged to build a hotel there. Qubein’s even sold the naming rights to BB&T for the next 15 years.
That wasn’t good enough for the cantankerous commission, which in their rebuttals seemed to accomplish nothing but the majority’s desire to stand athwart the pages of history shouting, “Stop!”
Among the litany of poorly executed protestations, the only one that stands to the light of reason is a math problem: Without the tax revenue from the district, the county might not be able to extend services to it. But High Point, with its own police and fire departments and even its own electric utility, should be able to survive.
More problematic for the conservatives on the commission is that they are facing Qubein, a man who has built his entire empire by not taking no for an answer.
The only question is how long these malcontents can hold up against the man who just conjured $100 million out of thin air.
The Guilford County Commission will hold a public hearing on the High Point Stadium project on Sept. 21.