Smith wants Lowe's incentive payments ramped up
Billionaire Bruton Smith doesn't like waiting up to 40 years to get his $80 million in incentives from Concord and Cabarrus County. That's the message the 81-year-old Lowe's Motor Speedway owner conveyed to local leaders this week. Much of the deal Smith is receiving involves incentives that could take up to 40 years to recoup.
“(Smith) was frustrated over how long it was….He thought it should be less” time, county commissioners Chairman Jay White said Wednesday. He said Smith had called him Monday to voice his concerns, but did not go into specifics. White suggested that Smith make a counterproposal, but did not know when that would happen.
Smith also spoke with Concord Mayor Scott Padgett this week. Padgett declined to comment, as did speedway spokesman Scott Cooper. Smith landed the deal last November after threatening to move the speedway following Concord's attempt to thwart his plans to build a drag strip. In exchange for incentives, Smith agreed to stay, build the $60 million drag strip and make $200 million in renovations at the speedway.
He is fronting the costs for extensive road improvements around the track, and other work. The deal calls for up to $60 million to be reimbursed to the speedway for those improvements, from grants that are the equivalent of an 85 percent rebate on annual city and county taxes from his new investments.
Such grants normally last three to five years. In Smith's case, the incentives could last up to 40 years, but that would depend on how the property is valued from year to year.
As for the rest of the deal, the city and county will front an estimated $15 million for expediting the state's extension of the George W. Liles Parkway, and eventually get reimbursed by the state.
And the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau will spend $5 million, or $500,000 annually for a decade, to market Smith's facilities. The bureau had said in December it already was planning to spend that much.
Bureau leader DeSales Wagster said her agency will collaborate on some marketing ideas with the speedway. But she said she wanted to make it clear the bureau would not be sending Smith any money to cover his marketing expenses.
“We're not writing them a check, I can assure you of that,” Wagster said. CharlotteObserver.com