More Meetings Planned To Discuss Future WS Iconic Venues

11:40 PM, Mar 26, 2012   |    comments
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Winston Salem, NC -- City leaders in Winston Salem still have no decision in the discussion about whether to sell or keep two iconic venues.

 

The city says the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Bowman Gray Stadium are running a combined, average loss of $850,000 a year.


Total debt on both properties, based on new information released Monday, shows there's more than $15 million in debt between the two venues.

 

Monday, council members held a special workshop to discuss the figures and other details of the properties.

 

They say they will host several more meetings before making any final decisions

 

News 2 asked a couple of council members about their take on the pros and cons of selling or keeping the coliseum and stadium. Both, Council Member Wanda Merschel and Vivian Burke, said they wanted to consider all the facts before making a decision but they felt the city was losing too much money and needed a new direction. 

 

"We're looking at aging infrastructure, aging facilities that will continue to cost the taxpayers significant amount of money," said Merschel.

Burke added that the city is "spending money but we're not really making money. And sound business sense would say now it's time to stop, evaluate and see where we need to go with this."

 

Based on the information presented at the meeting, keeping the coliseum and stadium would mean the city would continue to carry the debt and responsibility.

As it stands, taxpayer money would be spent without a profitable return - especially on the coliseum, which owes more than $3 more than the stadium.

 

Selling the venues on the other hand, according to city information, would pay down the millions of dollars the city.

An economics professor with Wake Forest, Todd McFall, tells us whoever buys either venue could turn it around and bring money, jobs and tourism into city without taxpayers footing the bill.

For racing fans, though, it's not so much about selling the Bowman Gray Stadium as it is about who eventually buys it.

 

"There are citizens in this town who want to form a corporation to buy it because we don't want to see things changed," said Harold Day, who says he represents the group.

 

Also, there's been talk about Winston Salem State and Wake Forest taking over each of the venues.

The city says neither school has submitted a formal proposal.

The city, however, would like to meet to discuss that.

 

Here is a look at the city's potential timeline:

April: City enters negotiations with interested parties.

May: Committee meeting; further direction from city council

June: Public input

July: Memorandum of Understanding approval

 

WFMY News 2

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