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Lawmakers back incentives to bring 'sports championship employer' to NC

A bill moving quickly through the legislature offers $18 million to draw championship events and a new museum to the state.

Posted Updated
NC Legislative Building
By
Travis Fain
, WRAL statehouse reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina lawmakers moved quickly Wednesday to approve $18 million in state grants to bring a "sports championship employer" to the state.

The sport wasn't named, and lawmakers were tight-lipped about it.

Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, who carried the bill in the state Senate, said the group involved expects to announce its plans next Wednesday. McInnis wouldn't say more, but his district include Pinehurst, the internationally known golf resort.

The bill calls for "major professional championship" events in both men's and women's sports.

The grants, from a state economic development incentive program, would go out over five years to a "sports championship employer" who:

  • Invests at least $5 million in the state by the end of 2023.
  • Builds at least two buildings totaling no less than 30,000 square feet that are "consistent with the surrounding campus" and house "an equipment testing center for research for advancements pertaining to the business,” as well as a museum and visitors center.
  • Employs, for 10 years, at least 35 new employees and at least 50 people total with salaries that average at least $80,000.
  • Holds championship events in the state with an aggregate benefit of at least $500 million.
  • Holds at least one "men's major professional championship event" every five to seven years and at least one "women's major professional championship event" every 10 years, plus 13 additional championship events.

The employer also has to provide the state with a “hospitality pavilion” that can accommodate at least 40 people, the bill states.

This is all contained in House Bill 807, which passed the Senate Wednesday. It moves to the House, where it's likely to pass Thursday.

The General Assembly is in a two-day legislative session, largely to appropriate federal coronavirus funding.

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