JLF Piedmont Triad Blog

Prim stiffs Forsyth County

After getting the tax on his BB&T Ballpark lease reduced to zero, Winston-Salem Dash owner Billy Prim tells Mayor Allen Joines he’ll pay the city for any lost property tax revenue.

But Forsyth County — which put up $12.5 million —- ‘not so lucky':

The city’s share of the tax bill is about $140,000.

The county’s share – about $200,000 – would not be made up by Sports Menagerie. Geoff Lassiter, the president of the Winston-Salem Dash, noted that while the city helped build the stadium, the county did not.

“The city of Winston-Salem has been a great partner,” Lassiter said, adding that the Dash will always live up to its agreements with the city, including paying the city the money it would have paid in property taxes.

The ballpark and the property it sits on are not taxable because they are owned by the city of Winston-Salem.

Again, there’s no standard operating procedure for taxing stadium leases. And don’t look to Wake County as a model:

One example cited on Thursday was Five County Stadium in the Wake County town of Zebulon. As Sports Menagerie officials pointed out, Wake County does not tax the stadium lease.

Like BB&T Ballpark, Five County Stadium is owned by government entities. The stadium is leased to the team that plays there, the Carolina Mudcats.

Marcus Kinrade, the Wake County revenue director, said in a telephone interview that there are solid reasons for not taxing the lease: The team is not profitable, he said, and the county has to spend tax revenues to maintain the stadium. And the capper: The stadium’s lease makes any tax payment responsibility fall on the government.

Lassiter assured everyone that the Dash was in good financial shape. But as we see time and again, things go south quickly in the world of professional sports.

Pay attention G’boro as they bankroll the downtown PAC on the fly.

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