Morrisville, Holly Springs in the running for grants for tourism projects

aramos@newsobserver.comDecember 2, 2013 

  • Applicants at a glance

    Ammons/Morrisville Competition Center: $3million

    PNC upgrades: $1.2million

    Holly Springs Athletic Complex: $2.8million

    Knightdale tennis courts: $155,000

    Longview Center renovations: $1.7million

    N.C. Museum of Art renovations: $624,960

    Naismith Legacy Park: $3million

    N.C. State University Gregg Museum: $2million

    Raleigh Barwell Road Tennis Complex: $2million

    St. Augustine’s University Athletic Complex: $3million

    Source: Wake County

Morrisville wants to bring an indoor ice rink and sports complex to town. Holly Springs wants a sports stadium, tennis courts and a greenway.

The two are among 10 towns, nonprofits and private developers competing for $6million in grants from Wake County hotel and prepared-food tax money.

The requests total $19.5million. A majority of the proposals are for sports facilities, including tennis complexes, basketball courts and fields.

St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh wants $3million to build phase two of its athletic complex, including bleachers, restrooms, concession stands, a practice field and parking.

The Centennial Authority, which runs PNC Arena, wants $1.2million for a digital ribbon board, and for upgrades to wireless Internet access.

But not all requests are sports-related.

The N.C. Museum of Art wants about $625,000 to restore its “PICTURE THIS” outdoor art exhibit and to upgrade the amphitheater’s technology.

The county is working with the The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau and consultants to evaluate the proposals and determine which projects would bring in new hotel stays and restaurant visits, said Denise Foreman, assistant to the county manager.

Foreman is leading the effort for the county and working with an advisory board to come up with a list of finalists by mid-December.

Originally, the Wake County Board of Commissioners was set to announce winners in December, but the process was delayed as commissioners dealt with transit presentations, Foreman said.

A decision is likely to come in January or February, she said.

“We have only $6million in funding, and we want to try to get as many projects as we can done,” Foreman said.

Morrisville has made a big push this grant cycle to get a share of the money. It is one of the largest contributors to the hotel and food-tax fund but has never submitted a project for consideration.

Raleigh contributed about $9.3million last year, while Cary generated $3million and Morrisville $2.5million. Morrisville’s contributions make up about 16percent of the fund revenues.

Developer Jeff Ammons has proposed a public-private partnership with Morrisville to build a complex that could include two ice rinks and volleyball courts with 1,500 to 2,000 seats for spectators.

The Carolina Hurricanes professional hockey team has expressed interest in using the complex as practice space.

Ammons is the developer and owner of Wake Forest’s The Factory, which features an ice rink, a YMCA, sports-themed businesses and a toy store.

Holly Springs, meanwhile, has plans for a $10million, 1,800-seat stadium. The town already has a collegiate summer-league team interested as a possible tenant.

The North Main Athletic Complex, to be near Anchor Creek Way, also will host soccer fields, tennis courts and possibly a smaller special-needs field.

Some of the funding for the stadium would come from $1.5million in existing bond money and an estimated $4million in debt financing. Holly Springs also wants to sell naming rights to raise money.

All grant proposals require a 65percent noncounty match.

Ramos: 919-460-2609; Twitter: @AlianaCaryNews

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