Regional Report Triad July 2013
Crashing the gates
Nobody said running a city should be fun, but Winston-Salem is getting out of the entertainment business for financial reasons. The City Council voted in May to sell Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum to Wake Forest University for $8 million and Bowman Gray Stadium to Winston-Salem State University for $7.1 million. The deals reflect the city’s budget realities. Declining property values from the recent recession led county commissioners to raise the property-tax rate — but not by enough for revenue to break even. But it also reflects the failures of the coliseum, which, competing with larger venues in Greensboro, Charlotte and the Triangle, has struggled to book events.
The coliseum is named for a U.S. Army medic from Winston-Salem who, in 1967, became the first living black man to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor since 1898. Leaders of the city’s black community demanded that his name remain on the arena after the sale. Wake Forest agreed — without forgoing its ability to pursue naming rights. If the university seeks a corporate sponsor, the smart money is on Winston-Salem-based BB&T Corp., which already has its name on the Demon Deacons’ football stadium. (It also sponsors the city’s minor-league baseball stadium, but a BB&T spokesman said the bank hasn’t been offered any opportunities in connection with the sale and won’t speculate.) It’s difficult to say what those rights are worth. PNC Arena in Raleigh, home of N.C. State basketball and professional hockey’s Carolina Hurricanes, goes for about $4 million a year, but it’s larger and more visited.
Though it’s received less attention, the Bowman Gray sale is more complicated because there’s public money — and oversight — on both sides. Winston-Salem State needs approval from the General Assembly and Council of State before it can close the deal. It will issue bonds to finance the purchase, which includes repaying $2.8 million that it borrowed from the city to make improvements to the stadium. Along with being the home field for the school’s football team, Bowman Gray hosts popular short-track auto racing, now in its 65th year. Initially, there was concern that racing would get short shrift if the stadium was under the control of a historically black college, but school leaders allayed those fears. And racing is good business. The promoter’s lease, which runs through 2031, goes with the sale and is worth more than $80,000 a year.
HIGH POINT — BNC Bancorp, the parent of Bank of North Carolina, will purchase Asheboro-based Randolph Bank & Trust for $10.4 million, adding six branches to its more than 30 in North and South Carolina. The acquisition will increase the bank’s $2.5 billion of deposits by $270 million.
GREENSBORO — Specialty grocer The Fresh Market named Jeff Ackerman chief financial officer. He was CFO of Trinity-based mattress-maker Sealy and also worked in finance for the Frito-Lay division of Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo.
WINSTON-SALEM — Triad Guaranty filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, listing assets of between $100 million and $500 million and liabilities of less than $50,000. The mortgage insurer stopped offering new policies in 2008 during the housing crisis and has been winding down business.
GREENSBORO — Bell Partners, which invests in and manages apartment projects, acquired a 310-unit complex in Orlando, Fla., adjacent to Universal Studios theme park for $48 million.