by Sam Hieb
The Winston-Salem Journal’s Scott Sexton weighs in on Billy Prim’s appeal of BB&T Park’s $36.4 million tax valuation:
The park was supposed to cost $22.6 million, with $12 million of that from the public. Work on the park stopped in fall 2008 when the money spigot ran dry. Hardball negotiations between the city and Prim resulted in another public infusion of $15.7 million that raised the city stake to $27.7 million.
Score that PR fiasco No. 1.
Once the furor over that subsided a little, the hits kept coming. For example, new team management priced out the team’s truly local beer sponsor, Foothills Brewery, in favor of Greensboro’s Natty Greene’s by setting the cost of a “founding sponsorship” at more than $100,000. Team management also is in a tug of war with Winston-Salem State University over the rent it wants to charge the fledgling Rams baseball team.
After the park opened (more than a year late) in April, the team had a record attendance year. But at season’s end, management refused to publicly release financial data such as revenues, expenses and net profits.
The odor from that transgression — and city officials’ inability to demand public accounting — was still lingering when news about the contested tax assessment broke.
It may well be that it’s not a big deal for big companies to appeal tax assessments, but when there has been such an infusion of public money … wow. Just wow.
Meanwhile, Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines sits and wonders when Prim will release financial data.