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The original item was published from 2/3/2015 4:58:40 PM to 2/3/2015 5:05:19 PM.

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Posted on: February 3, 2015

[ARCHIVED] County Approves $1 Million for Athletic Complex Project

Wake County commissioners have voted unanimously to commit $1 million in hotel room and prepared food and beverage taxes toward North Main Athletic Complex.

Town officials will re-evaluate the scope of the project, which is under construction, to determine how the additional money might best be used. They had scaled back to cut costs for the $19 million facility.

Lighted, synthetic turf soccer fields are expected to open in March. The project’s first phase also includes tennis courts, which will be surfaced when the weather warms.

A 1,700-seat multi-sport stadium is scheduled to open at the end of May with phase 2. In addition to town recreation programs and rentals, the stadium will be home to the Holly Springs Salamanders, a new collegiate summer league baseball team.

The stadium will also be used for concerts and other community events.

Deferred for cost-cutting reasons were:

• Restrooms along the right field line that were in addition to those on the leftfield side
• Auxiliary concessions area in addition to the main concessions
• Stadium video screen
• Landscaping, decorative fencing, brick columns and other enhancements along Main Street
• Playground
• Connection of the access road to N.C. 55 Bypass

County officials said they would work with the town on a funding agreement for the $1 million in new funding.

Last summer, the previous Board of Commissioners chose not to grant any occupancy or food and beverage taxes for the athletic complex, leaving $2 million in tourism promotion funds undesignated. Holly Springs’ request ranked fourth among 10 projects. Only the top two were chosen.

When control of the county board shifted after the November election, town officials pursued an opportunity to try again. They scaled back the request from $2.8 million to $1 million and sought reconsideration. At that amount, the county’s return on investment shortened from 15.6 years to 5½.

The economic impact from North Main Athletic Complex has been calculated at $6.8 million a year using the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance formula for sporting events.

Town Manager Charles Simmons thanked Wake County commissioners and County Manager Jim Hartmann for their support. Simmons said Mayor Dick Sears was instrumental in securing reconsideration, and approval, of tourism taxes for the athletic complex.

“He went above and beyond,” Simmons said. “The money will be well-spent.”

Since before the election, Sears had pressed the case with the current county board for Holly Springs to share in tourism tax proceeds.

“I think they all understood the importance of the project,” he said, adding that reducing the request made the financial case for the county even stronger.

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