How far will Greensboro go to keep the ACC headquarters here?
In a statement released Thursday, Mayor Nancy Vaughan revealed that the city has offered to rechristen Greensboro’s state-of-the-art arena as the “ACC Coliseum.”
The statement, co-signed by Guilford County Commissioners Chairman Melvin “Skip” Alston, also views a provision in the proposed state budget for $15 million in incentives to keep the ACC in the state as a positive.
“We have been assured that the ACC has not made a decision on its headquarters at this time and that Greensboro remains a finalist,” the statement says.
So what’s in a name?
Meanwhile, according to published reports, the proposed new state budget would assist the move with $15 million in incentives, a figure that the ACC and state lawmakers have agreed to.
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The proposed incentives agreement for an unnamed “qualifying collegiate sports employer” stipulate that the ACC would remain in North Carolina for 15 years and that it would hold an additional four men’s basketball tournaments in the state with two of those in Greensboro, not counting the one already scheduled in the city next year.
The ACC also would agree to hold four women’s basketball tournaments in the state and four baseball tournaments, as well 20 other postseason tournaments in the state until 2034.
But something about this deal doesn’t feel quite right.
Consider comments from the chairman of the state House Appropriations Committee, as reported by WRALsportsfan.com.
“Hate to get competing between two cities, but the reality is some cities have more of what they need right now,” said Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincoln County Republican.
You don’t have to read too closely between the lines to sense that Saine anticipates a move to Charlotte.
And if that move is pre-ordained, the legislature could wind up appropriating taxpayer money not to lure a new business to North Carolina, but to help an existing one move from one North Carolina city to another — in essence, to rob Peter to pay Paul (with Peter kicking in some of the cash to help make it happen).
Yes, the $15 million could be used to keep the ACC in Greensboro.
The wording of the bill doesn’t mention a specific city. Who’s to say it couldn’t be us?
But honestly, as much as we’d love to be wrong about this, the odds are against it.
Despite assurances from the ACC that it has made no decision as of yet, it’s hard not to infer that the ACC wants to be somewhere else — or why would it be looking at other sites in the first place?
Never mind that a change of address to wherever is likely in any way to improve the ACC’s lagging revenues when compared to rivals such as the Southeastern Conference. The SEC is doing just fine, thank you, with a headquarters in Birmingham, Ala. (population 197,575 versus Greensboro’s 299,035).
As for perks, among other sweeteners Greensboro offered to keep the headquarters here was essentially customized plane service for the ACC to address PTI Airport’s lack of as many direct flights as are available in some larger cities, including Charlotte.
The talking points for keeping the ACC here are familiar:
The ACC was founded in Greensboro in 1953.
Greensboro has hosted more ACC men’s basketball tournaments (28) than any other city.
The ACC matters more to Greensboro probably than anywhere else on the planet.
Offering to rename the Greensboro Coliseum certainly bears testament to that.
The idea of naming rights has come up before, generally to skepticism from the public. Plus, the city’s name on the arena is both a point of civic pride and a branding tool for Greensboro. But “ACC” is better than the name of, say, a fried-chicken chain.
And desperate times call for desperate measures.
We’ll soon see how much matters.
If, in the end, the ACC moves to Charlotte, so be it. Greensboro has done its best to retain the headquarters, and that’s all you can ask.
That said, there must be a better way than these incentives.
It’s true; we have supported incentives before for such economic development projects as Apple in the Triangle and, more recently, Boom Supersonic and Toyota in the Triad.
But this is different. It doesn’t involve a new plant, a relocation from another state or a start-up.
It entails taking from one city in the state and giving to another. And in Greensboro’s case it could both lose the ACC and chip in for the moving van down I-85.
With all due respect to the Queen City, if it manages to lure away the ACC headquarters, it should pay the freight, not all state taxpayers.
And certainly not taxpayers in Greensboro.