Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Foxx: Had we known, city might not have invested in NASCAR Hall

It sounds like Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and CRVA chief Tim Newman won't be sitting down for a beer anytime soon.

Foxx made it clear Tuesday that he's still pressing for Newman's ouster as CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. The CRVA has been plagued with mismanagement, and its response in cleaning that up has made things worse.

Asked by the Observer whether the CRVA has done enough for Foxx to support releasing the $7.5 million the city has withheld, Foxx said the CRVA board has "gotten the memo" about putting in better fiscal controls. But, he said, "I still think there's a leadership question there."

"I've told them what I think and ... we'll see what they do," Foxx said.

He later said that he could not envision a scenario in which he would support full finding for the CRVA without a change in leadership.

Foxx cited the wildly optimistic attendance projections the CRVA put forth when trying to land the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

If those projections had been more accurate, "We might have made a different calculus on how much to invest in that facility or whether to invest at all," Foxx said.

The CRVA board should hear the mayor, and institute real change, from the top on down.

-- Posted by Taylor Batten for the Observer editorial board


Foghorn1 said...

Just another McCrory led mess, just like the uptown arena. McCrory need not ever run for political office again.

ThaQueenCity said...

We all know Foxx has one of his cronies in mind who would be just as corrupt....so at this point it doesn't matter WHO they put there, the taxpayers are the ones who are being taken!

par said...

Come on Fox, the city did know better. They should have given the NASCAR Hall to Dayton Beach. More incentives to draw.

A Bookish Mind said...

If the common citizen knew BEFORE the building had even had the cement laid down this was a BAD idea, then how is the mayor going to say something so naive and stupid? The HoF is right smack dab downtown, it was built in a bad economy, and Charlotte's tourism does not lend itself well to any hall of fame if the truth be known.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Anthony Foxx on just about every issue under the sun. This issue is definitely an exception.

Anyone who was paying even minimal attention knew that NASCAR was setting these cities up with the bidding for the HOF. Daytona and Virginia were never serious contenders, but were put in the running to placate a few politicians. NASCAR knew if it could get Atlanta, Charlotte and Kansas City in a bidding war, NASCAR could get its HOF without any NASCAR dollars going toward it. And I think NASCAR is well aware of Charlotte's never-admitted but obvious severe inferiority complex with Atlanta and our childish obsession with what other cities think of us. NASCAR knew that we would gladly sell our mothers to get something placed here instead of Atlanta. NASCAR probably also knew we had a tourism bureau that would tell any tale necessary to get some amenity here, whether the tale was true or not. And we fell for it, hook, line and sinker.

You guys that are holding McCrory wholly and only responsible for the NASCAR Hall, TWC Arena and anything else "tourist-ey" that you don't like - how about directing some of your anger toward Tim Newman and his pack of liars at the CRVA?

Anonymous said...

A Bookish Mind - I think you are speaking from hindsight. Yes, the economy was already in decline when the Hall was being built. There are a lot of things that make sense about the Hall being here - most race teams are headquartered here, the May race here is one of the 5 most important races on the schedule, and attendance at our races has held up better in the recession than many other tracks, especially Atlanta, whose attendance has gotten so bad they lost one of their races. The amount of money we got on the hook for was a matter of debate, but the concept of the Hall being here was and is a good one. What has hurt the Hall is price ($20 a head just to get in, plus extra fees for a number of exhibits), and the fact that NASCAR, with about 50-75 Hall-worthy contributors waiting to be inducted, inexplicably limited all classes to 5 inductees. They should have made it 10 inductees for each of the first 5 years, then scaled back to 5. More early inductees would have meant more relevant exhibits. Combine that with a more reasonable admission fee and the Hall would probably be doing a lot better - although it will never do as good as CRVA kept screaming it would do, and that's a big reason why Tim Newman should be in line at the unemployment office right now.

The Dragon said...

Jan. 22, 2005: "Charlotte is a boisterous, fast-growing city; NASCAR is a boisterous, fast-growing sport. The two share a hard-driving spirit and an urge to get ahead quickly, even if it means a bump or two. ... The NASCAR Hall of Fame belongs here. Let's all unite to make it happen."

- editorial, The Charlotte Observer.

Let's all unite to make it happen, until the Observer needs a scapegoat for its lack of journalistic vision. THEN blame Tim Newman. Newman was just executing his marching orders, to get the Hall of Fame.

Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/06/29/2415161/another-smart-idea-build-a-hall.html#ixzz1SaQCmgrs

Phu Tran said...

I've driven by the Hall thousands of times but have never had the desire to go inside. The problem with the Hall is its design from the outside. It just looks like a new terminal at any major airport. From what I've seen of the inside (from news reports and an episode of American Pickers) the interior space is much too generic and sterile. How much research actually went into the design and who was actually consulted? Why didn't they use a brick facade or design that evokes the golden days of Nascar and the most memorable race tracks (similar to how baseball stadiums are designed)?People need to see the Hall and say, "I need to check that place out!" Currently, they just say who built that funny shaped building in downtown Charlotte.

JE said...

When the original bid was put in Charlotte estimated attendance at around 400,000/year. Atlanta, at the time, was estimating 500,000/year. I wondered at the time about the difference in those two numbers. Suddenly, just before the HoF opened, I read in the Observer that Charlotte was estimating 800,000/year. Why the increase and why does no one else seem to remember the original numbers? At the very least, shouldn't someone in city government have asked why the attendance number doubled?

Wiley Coyote said...

This is a pattern for Mayor Fixxit, aka Little Obama.

He always opens his mouth after the fact.

While Fixxit had reservations intitally about the Hall, he still voted for it.

March 07, 2006

Charlotte's hall-of-fame contract with NASCAR -- hundreds of pages worth -- zoomed into public view just before 4 p.m. Monday.

Within the next four hours, the balloons dropped, the City Council voted unanimously and Mayor Pat McCrory signed the deal.

Monday's fast-paced action concluded more than a year of work and weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations and closed-door council meetings.

"I would have liked to have had more time and I frankly would have liked more public discussion," said council member Anthony Foxx. "But once the council majority decided how to proceed, I tried to evaluate the proposal on its merits and it had a lot of positives for the community."

You had a chance not to support this thing yet you voted for it.

You took your kids out of CMS schools yet you still run your mouth about CMS problems.

Then, to make matters worse Mr. Fixxit, you VOTED TO GIVE AN ADDITIONAL $32 million to this farce of a project!!

The Charlotte City Council agreed Monday to increase the NASCAR Hall of Fame budget by $32 million to boost exhibits and pay for unexpected building costs.

The 9-2 decision came after council members chastised city staff and other hall planners for not telling them sooner about the price hike. Council members complained of early, “lowball” estimates of the exhibit costs. They asked how the extra money would help attendance. And they said they felt trapped.

“It would be helpful if we had a heads-up earlier than we did this time,” said Mayor Pro Tem Susan Burgess.

But in the end Burgess voted for the increase, saying the hall should be “whiz-bang on day one.” She also pointed out that paying for it will not affect property taxes.

She was joined by council members Warren Cooksey, Andy Dulin, Nancy Carter, Warren Turner, John Lassiter, Edwin Peacock and Anthony Foxx.

Council members Patsy Kinsey and Michael Barnes opposed the increase. Kinsey said she could not support it while residents are worrying so much about the economy.

Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2008/09/23/209420/council-oks-millions-for-nascar.html#ixzz1SaYCZIW0

razorsedge said...

The fury should be directed at Close and his buddies. Newman is Close's water boy. Has been since he worked for the Knights. And, Close has long had NASCAR connections and cronies. Of course, the fact that Close is Erkine Bowles' brother-in-law means that every Democratic lawmaker in the state is beholden to him. Fact is, all local pols are beholden to the uptown crowd regardless of party, and they seem quite willing to do their bidding no matter the consequences. Cronyism at its worst. But, the real crime, to me, was the fact that the CRVA, including its board and management, flat out lied about both the attendance projections and the cost. There should be ramifications for outright lying to the taxpayers for your own benefit.

panther14 said...

Wasn't mayor FiXX on the city council when the hof was approved,and didn't he vote for it? Wasn't he the one with the shovel right next to pat mac when they broke ground? It's always easy to bash the past because most people forget who the cronies were while the top gun takes the credit and then gets bashed.I think mayor FiXX's buddy little patti cannon was in on this too before he took his hiatus in city council.If you want to bash the past,then come correct!!

Dan Bishop said...

There are always Tim Newmans. Everyone voting knew HOF was hugely speculative and information was scant. County Commissioners voted too, and I was the only "no" -- for exactly the same reasons that Foxx articulated but disregarded.

I won't lose sleep over Newman (I say that like Seinfeld), but Foxx just wants to put somebody in the slot.

Phil Bowman said...

The problem is caused by his brother from a different mother. It is the Obama economy........

stfree said...

Let's see: Arenas (multiple), Citifairs, HOFs, Whitewater Park... the list goes on.

Can anyone point to just ONE of these sinkholes that has produced anywhere close to the "experts" estimations of revenue.

How in the h... can we be so STUPID?

Tandemfusion said...

It is not hindsight to day that many of the HOF problems were obvious. Much like with the Arena, the local government-uptown combine happily labelled anyone who sought better information and who advised caution as "naysayers" who didn't understand how good it would be for Charlotte.

There were plenty of people who questioned the attendance projections and pointed out the very high risks of the project, If the city and county government largely choose to ignore those voices of caution in favor of the boosterism of CRVA, it is not because they could not have known. Rather, local government has simply proven to be lousy stewards of the public purse in this area. Perhaps that's due to outsized egos, but my guess is that it is to a large degree the mediocre nature of the elected officials, and to the structure of government here that marginalizes public accountability.

MarkB said...

What a stupid line! The arena didn't work. Whitewater center didn't work. Why would any thinking person think this would work? These things are only funded because private enterprise has determined that they were not worth the risk. Govt funds arenas because the owners don't want to invest their own monies. Foxx is no better than any other pol who will steal money from one person and give it to another.