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.
Join the First Amendment Society, a membership that goes directly to funding TCB‘s newsroom.
We believe that reporting can save the world.
The TCB First Amendment Society recognizes the vital role of a free, unfettered press with a bundling of local experiences designed to build community, and unique engagements with our newsroom that will help you understand, and shape, local journalism’s critical role in uplifting the people in our cities.
All revenue goes directly into the newsroom as reporters’ salaries and freelance commissions.
You’re way off on this article. Mr. Qubein’s supposed 50 million dollars is pledged, not actually in the “bank,” and not a single penny of it will be spent to pay for the stadium. Mr. Qubein and Forward High Point stadium proponents insist that only tax dollars be used to fund the stadium. 15 million tax dollars have already been approved by the HP City Council to acquire land and perform engineering studies. The money that Mr. Qubein claims to have raised will be used, in part, to pay for a childrens museum, cinema, park and events center, but there are no plans nor location in place, not to mention that there are no details as to who will build it, staff it, operate it or maintain it. It is widely assumed that these perpetual costs will fall upon the taxpayers of High Point. Even if a non-profit group is created to oversee the complex, it is expected that the taxpayers will be forced to fund that non-profit group. At this time no one has any numbers for the required city infrastructure improvements that will be required in the area around the stadium. Nor has a final plan to finance the stadium, TIF, LAN, etc., have all been presented in one form or another, but a final plan is not in place. The figures given by CS&L have been wrong in other locations across the country where similar projects were recommended by them. The stated property value loss used by stadium proponents turned out to be off by over 50% (casting into doubt that TIF financing will actually ever raise enough to pay for the stadium) The County Commissioners are being asked to hand over county tax dollars for a project that is vague, incomplete and rife with seat-of-the-pants changes on almost a daily basis. It is right and proper for the commissioners to ask these questions and equally right and proper for the stadium proponents to provide detailed answers. Thus far, they have done nothing but dance around the questions without providing any actual details. Their only answer seems to be “just trust us…”.