Ten years ago, Richmond-area officials campaigned to become the home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. We gave it a good shot but there was no competing with the deal that Charlotte, N.C., put together. Ten years later, it looks like we dodged a bullet. Writes Style Weekly:
Organizers of the Hall of Fame said it would draw between 400,000 and 700,000 visitors annually. But only about 170,000 visitors are making the stop. The project lost more than $1 million a year, and last night, Charlotte City Council voted to write off more than $22 million in debt that city and local banks took on to finance the project.
It’s not clear how much money the Richmond region was willing to expend in order to attract the $100 million project, but the state and Henrico County would have had to pony up a big chunk. Then-Governor Mark Warner predicted a “substantial investment from the state,” reported the Daily Press. The Henrico County Economic Development Authority undoubtedly would have been called upon to support the debt.
Bacon’s bottom line: Richmonders often speak with envy about the ability of Charlotte’s business, government and civic leadership to “get things done.” In this case, Charlotte leaders are probably wishing they hadn’t been so adept. Let this be a reminder: State and local government should focus on excelling at their core missions. Promoting tourism is not a core mission. That’s a job of the local business community.
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