Knightdale begins work with Naismith group

mhankerson@newsobserver.comMarch 25, 2014 

— The town officially announced its willingness to bring a proposed basketball facility to the town last week by laying out the terms for working with Naismith Legacy Giving and Wake Stone to make the $10 million facility a reality.

Council agreed to a deal that requires Wake Stone to donate 140 acres of land at the corner of Forestville and Old Crews roads to the town and the town will enter into “appropriate agreements” to allow Naismith to build a basketball facility on the land, the agreement says.

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

Mayor Russell Killen said the project would host 12-week basketball programs in which coaches and participants stayed on the property. He said one of the draws of the project is that it would encourage parents and other people involved with the camps to come to the town. Over 10 years, it could bring in between $80 and $90 million in revenue, Killen told the council.

“It is a game-changer for Knightdale,” he said. “(It can) make us a big tourist destination for sports.”

The facility, which is named after James Naismith, who invented basketball, would be used by the YMCA of the Triangle and the town of Knightdale when camp is not in session.

According to documents presented to the county by the Naismith group earlier this month, the park would include two “basketball villages” with 18 fieldhouses and overnight accommodations for summer youth basketball camp participants.

County-private funding

The Naismith park would be funded by money granted by county comissioners and private donations. Right now, the project is among several being considered as recipients of grant money from the county and seems to be a favorable option, considering its projected economic impact.

Wake County and the City of Raleigh each get $1 million per year from the occupancy and prepared food and beverage taxes – often referred to as hotel-motel taxes – collected in the county.

The city and county formed an agreement in 2004 in which the city can take more than its annual allotment of $1 million to fund the Raleigh Convention Center. But when it does, the county gets to take twice the excess amount. The provision took effect when the Convention Center opened in 2010.

Raleigh took extra funds in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. The county is now taking proposals to spend its first payment of $6 million, which it received last fall. By law, the county can only give the money to projects that boost local hotels and restaurants.

Naismith has asked the county for $3 million, the most any project asking for a piece of that $6 million can get. The remaining money will be raised by private donations coordinated by the Naismith group.

The camp is expected to result in an average of about 52,000 hotel stays and $12.1 million in total economic impact each year for the next seven years, Naismith Legacy Group told the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

Other favorites for the grant money were projects in Morrisville and Holly Springs, although Knightdale’s project is predicted to outperform both.

The Morrisville project is expected to have an annual impact of $4.5 million. The Holly Springs project will likely have an annual economic impact of about $6.8 million and generate 5,100 annual hotel visits a year.

Knightdale’s project is dependent on the county’s decision to fund it.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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