NASCAR Hall of Fame Press Conference
March 6, 2006
HALL OF FAME PRESS CONFERENCE
THE MODERATOR: We're happy to welcome you to what is clearly an historic day in the 58-year history of NASCAR and the history of Charlotte.
A little over 12 months ago, the City of Charlotte received an RFP from NASCAR to participate in the bid process for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It was last August 17th that we officially kicked off our efforts with this video. Please join me.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and Gentlemen, there were literally hundreds of people that worked behind the scenes, and many that you saw out front, far too many to recognize today. But a few of them we would like to call to your attention as they join us here. First of all, the Charlotte City Council. Please welcome to the stage, your Charlotte region NASCAR Hall of Fame team.
Please welcome to the stage the honorary grand marshal of the NASCAR Hall of Fame team, and the owner of Hendrick Motorsports, our good friend Rick Hendrick.
RICK HENDRICK: Thank you. Didn't get to go to stage in New York, so this is second best. What a great-looking crowd.
I can't tell you how proud I am to be here today, standing with all these folks, all of you that worked so hard, such a great effort. A few years back, Brian France came up with the Chase scenario. We had the Nextel Cup Chase. We would have 10 races, 10 teams, run for a championship. When the Hall of Fame got started, I felt like we were in another Chase. We end up with five cities, then three cities, and hopefully today Brian France is going to put the stamp on coming to Charlotte, where it belongs, the home of NASCAR, the home of all the teams, drivers and all the support industry that's made NASCAR what it is.
You know, I've been in the sport now 25 years. I got to meet Mr. France Sr. Made a big impact and really put NASCAR on the map. Then I got to race with Bill Jr. He added his touch to the NASCAR situation. Then along the way, Brian came on the scene, developed a marketing strategy that really kind of pole vaulted NASCAR into an arena that was not just a national sport, but an international sport, then the Chase.
It's my pleasure today to introduce to you the chairman and CEO of NASCAR, Mr. Brian France.
BRIAN FRANCE: Thank you, all. You know, the community support that has been behind this project has been there from the very beginning. Thank you all for coming today.
Two years ago we talked about this being one of the last remaining major sports that didn't have its own Hall of Fame, a place to house its past, present and its future. The good news was the amount of interest around the country was overwhelming to us, everyone at NASCAR. The five cities that ended up really showing the right enthusiasm, I want to thank all of them, and in particular Atlanta, Mayor Franklin, Governor Perdue. Thank you very much for the support you showed, the enthusiasm you showed for this project. As well as our home state of Florida. Governor Jeb Bush, Mayor Scarlett-Golden, thank you very much for all the enthusiasm you shared.
In the end, like any tough decision, you look at what's going to be best in the long run. I'm happy to tell you today that the NASCAR Hall of Fame is going to be right here in Charlotte, North Carolina.
BRIAN FRANCE: One last thing and I'll join the group behind me. I also know one other thing. Not only thanks to everyone in this room's support, frankly the entire state of North Carolina and the City of Charlotte, I also know this is going to be the most technologically advanced superior Hall of Fame that's ever been created in all sports. We're going to have a lot to be proud of in the future. Thank you very much.
MAYOR McCRORY: Brian, on behalf of the entire City of Charlotte and thousands upon thousands of people that made this happen, I'd like to officially welcome you to Charlotte, the home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
As mayor, along with this great team, we've been saying now for nine months that one of our goals is to connect NASCAR and Charlotte the same way Hollywood is connected to the movies, the same way Pasadena is connected to the Rose Bowl, the same way Augusta is connected to the Masters, the same way Cooperstown is connected to baseball. And now forever, NASCAR and Charlotte, the Hall of Fame, it's something we can all be proud of.
We've been doing this for many reasons. We've been doing this because, one, this is going to be a tremendous boon to the travel and tourism industry, not just Charlotte, but this entire region and this entire state.
Second, we think this will add an incredible amount of jobs for economic development. The NASCAR industry is right here. About 60 to 70% of the teams, the race teams, excellent athletes, technicians, engineers, drivers, they all live in this area. This is the home of these drivers. There's no place like home.
In addition, for generations to come we firmly believe that the history of the racing industry, it started here, and it does belong here, and it will be here forever and ever. You can applaud on that, too.
MAYOR McCRORY: As mayor of the City of Charlotte, I also need to say this. This team behind me, the team in front of us, we greatly respected the competition that also bid for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Actually, friends of mine, Mayor Franklin in Atlanta, Daytona, Richmond, Kansas City, they also saw the value of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. I know they worked extremely hard like we did for it. I just want to compliment each one of those cities for making us work very hard. I compliment them on their outstanding effort. We continue to want them to be a part of this great racing industry, and we look forward to working with all those cities throughout the United States of America.
Let me also say this. We would not have gotten this far, to this wonderful announcement, unless we treated it as a team sport. As you know, when a race is won, it's not just the driver. I see Darrel Waltrip in the audience. Great to see you, Darrell. Darrell knows when he won many, many races, he didn't win it by himself. When he danced in Victory Lane, he was dancing on behalf of a great team.
I'm not going to dance. I don't have the talent that you have, Darrell, but I just want to let you know that a lot of people have put nine months of hard work into this. The first people I need to thank is not in my order, but I'm making them my order, teammates in the City of Charlotte. I know they've been recognized once, but I want to thank the Charlotte City Council. They've been working very, very hard on this. Members of the Charlotte City Council.
I also want to thank our honorary chairman. When we asked him to be chairman of this, he thought it would just be honorary. When you ask Rick Hendrick to lead something, he participates. He pulled a trick on me earlier today. He pretended he was in Miami. My heart just dropped (laughter). But, Rick Hendrick, you're a tribute to the city, you're a tribute to the state and the NASCAR industry. It's been great working with you.
I'd like also to think Senator Dole and Richard Burr for their excellent work, Congressman Mel Watt who helped us out in this effort and has been a great advocate for NASCAR. Governor Mike Easley, it's great to have you here. You and your team have been just true partners. We really appreciate it. Thank you very much.
There are four people that have been very close to me during the past nine months. They really were the workers behind the scenes that deserve an incredible amount of credit. I'd like them to stand up and wave to you. Cathy Bessant, president of the Chamber of Commerce when they started. She's with bank of America. John Tate, representing Wachovia Corporation. He was head of our finance team. My other crew chief, Mr. Luther Cochrane, who is head of CRVA. Luther, couldn't have done it without you.
There are two other elected bodies that I see many of in the audience. I want to thank them. I cannot tell you how much we appreciate it. The one is our state delegation. Without them working in Raleigh to get approval to have the hotel industry basically play for this NASCAR Hall of Fame, along with the private sector, we couldn't have done it without you. I see them all lined up. Mecklenburg state delegation, please stand. Also the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners. If any of them would please stand also, it's just great having you, having you part of the team.
I'd like also to recognize some fellow mayors that are in the audience. Our Mecklenburg delegation, the mayors of the Concord and Moorseville. Would the mayors please stand. This is a regional effort.
There are just a few more people. We could go on forever. Like in NASCAR, the teams are huge. That's one reason we want NASCAR to stay here, because it's growing and growing and growing. Tim Newman and the Charlotte Regional Authority, CRVA board, Tim Newman, we appreciate your work. I've also got to recognize the members of the Charlotte city staff who were the leaders of this area, our city manager, Pam Syfert, Ron Kimbel, one of the assistant city managers, Mack McCarley and Jim Shumacher. Everyone please stand.
Like NASCAR and Charlotte, 10 years ago they weren't on the radar screen nationally. We were the best-kept secret, both the sport and the city. The secret's out, we're both on top. Congratulations to all of you. Thank you very much.
RICK HENDRICK: Thank you, mayor. It is amazing to see the amount of support from the city, the state and the region in this room today. It's more horsepower than you have in the garage area at Daytona.
We couldn't have done this without the leadership that's in this room, and we want to thank everyone. But I've got to tell some of the NASCAR guys sitting here, Darrell, you'll enjoy this, I really enjoyed getting ready to come out on the stage because they were telling Mike Helton what to do (laughter). They said, "You'll go at this point. You won't speak. You'll sit here." I've been waiting a long time to see that (laughter).
Moving right along, when you talk about our state of North Carolina, we have had tremendous support from our governor. Our governor, this isn't something that just came to him lately. The $6 billion that this industry brings into our state, he recognized this a long time ago. He formed a special task force to study our sport and to see what they could do from the state level to keep us here, to help us grow, to make us better. I know that he's the fastest governor in the United States. I know that he's the only governor that went to the wall for the NASCAR effort. In our new contract with Lowe's, Mr. Niblock said he couldn't drive a Lowe's car anymore. Seriously, he's been a tremendous supporter, a tremendous supporter of our community, our government, and especially NASCAR. My privilege to present or ask to come forward today our governor of North Carolina, Mike Easley.
GOVERNOR EASLEY: Thank you. I appreciate the kind introduction. Rick said I won't drive that Lowe's car anymore. I can tell you, nobody will drive that car anymore (laughter). It's still piled up somewhere in one of your garages. But thank you for your kind introduction. That's about as good as I ever expected to get.
Mayor, I want to commend you on selecting Rick to head up this team. I got a call right away from Rick Hendrick, said he'd been selected. Kind of went like this. "There's not really anything in this for me. I don't really stand to gain anything on this. I'm not cashing in any of my chips with you, but this could really be big for you." It sort of went from there. Then when it got down to the short rows, he really needed something, he said, "Have you gotten that bill for that car yet?" So I knew it was time to come through.
So congratulations, Rick, on a good job, all of the team here, John Tate. He's on the State Board of Education. Hope we have a conversation about education one more time instead of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Mayor, great job. I think you're one of the big reasons why this happened. I wouldn't say it if I didn't have to, you know that (laughter). Luther, you did great, too.
But I've been looking over the numbers. We do our due diligence. If there was any one thing to say to do, it would be, "Charlotte, start your economic engine." This thing is going to be big. We're excited that Charlotte and North Carolina are finally recognized as the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It ought to be. We had discussions with Brian France, Mike Helton, the president of NASCAR, and they put it all on the table. Unlike anything else I've ever dealt with with economic development. They just walked in and quite honestly said, "This is what we need, this is what we want. Let us know what you can do, we'll let you know what we can do." We almost didn't know what to do with that information because it was so straightforward.
I thank you for that and I thank you for the great job you do in a tough sport. They can't win. It's tough to be able to control that sort of enthusiasm. But they do a great job with it. I thank them for showing the confidence in Charlotte and in North Carolina for making this announcement today.
After all, we've got 82% of the Cup cars here's, 72% of the Busch cars, 55% of the Craftsman Truck Series. Got a ways to go before we get them all. That's where we're headed. We want to get them all because this is home.
As Rick was talking about, the economic impact, it's over $6 billion for this state. Over 24,000 direct jobs, not even counting the indirect jobs, over a thousand businesses across North Carolina related to motorsports. There's a lot been written about clusters of innovation starting about 2000, 2001. I remember being asked to go to Tokyo by the Prime Minister of Japan to talk about the RTP, which is the one that comes to mind first. It was at that time that I started looking at motorsports and looking at NASCAR and realizing we have a cluster of innovation right here at our doorstep. We have the jobs, we had the research and develop, high innovation, high technology, high skill, knowledge. It's something we're good at, something we can grow. That's why our legislators who are here today have recognized this today and supported the state's involvement in this all along the way. I appreciate that confidence.
We realized we had a cluster right here of some of the best and most sophisticated research and development that takes place, NASCAR. We celebrate that. This Hall of Fame helps us celebrate that. These are the jobs of the 21st century of the new economy that we want to develop and expand as we go forward.
NASCAR, we've often said, is as American as apple pie. It's not just because of the entertainment. That is good. Try to contribute wherever I can in that regard, often not intentionally. But it's the competition that is so American. It's the competition out there that fuels the research. It's the competition that drives the technology. It's the competition that moves the needle on innovation.
It's the Rick Hendrick team not wanting to lose to Roush teams, Childress teams trying to get one more mile per hour. Everybody involved in the sport is involved in the competition. NASCAR trying to be safer each year, have fewer injuries than the year before. The tracks trying to reach greater speeds. It's that same spirit of competition, research, development, creativity and innovation that the rest of the businesses in this state are beginning to learn, and we all have to learn that we're in a race in this global economy, and we have to be willing to compete, we have to be willing to be innovative, we have to find better and newer ways to do everything we do every single day. That we can learn from NASCAR and this Hall of Fame.
Let me close by saying we welcome the NASCAR Hall of Fame, not just because of its past and all of the history and tradition that comes with it. We welcome the Hall of Fame and we understand and appreciate the obligation, the opportunity and the challenge that Charlotte and North Carolina has to make sure that this is the finest Hall of Fame of any sport anywhere in the world. Thank you.
MAYOR McCRORY: I want to let you know today, because of this announcement, you're getting a Hall of Fame designed by IM Pei. It's going to be a landmark for this entire region and state. This is not just going to be a Hall of Fame, it's going to be an experience which you'll want to revisit again and again and again. You're also getting a convention center ballroom added to this wonderful convention center we have here today. You're also possibly getting a new office building on the same piece of property that we're working with NASCAR on at this point in time. This is going to be something that will be sustainable for generations to come.
Now I'd like to ask the whole team to come up. Brian, it's been great working with you. We have been working, the Charlotte City Council, many people on this team, have been working for a long time. We'd like to finalize this with your signature on a contract. Rick said, "Get it in writing now."
BRIAN FRANCE: They always say in North Carolina you guys know how to close the deal. Figured that might come.
MAYOR McCRORY: We'd be honored to have your signature. Tonight I hope to sign this with the Charlotte City Council. Thank you very much.
I'd also like to present you a special gift by this great team. Your parents helped build NASCAR. Your family built NASCAR from the ground up. In fact, your dad told me about stories off of Little Rock Road where he actually sold hot dogs at the first track, the Charlotte Motor Speedway track. He told me some great stories. He remembered the aroma, the track, the people, and it stayed with him to this day.
We stand here 58 years later talking about the past, the present and the future. One thing we'd like to do, and we're going to give everyone an opportunity to do this in the audience, that is we're going to have some special bricks. The first one is going to be dedicated to Bill Sr. and Ann B. France, titled No. 1, and dedicated to NASCAR Hall of Fame March 6, 2006. Thank you very much.
BRIAN FRANCE: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and Gentlemen, fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a great ride. Thank you very much. There were literally hundreds of folks involved in this effort, but one of those, one of the crew chiefs who was involved was the chairman of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority and president of BEK Construction, Mr. Luther Cochrane.
LUTHER COCHRANE: Good afternoon and welcome. First of all, to everybody, thank you for being here. This is a special day for Charlotte, for the region, for the state, and hopefully the start of something incredibly special for NASCAR with the City of Charlotte, the Hall of Fame.
Only NASCAR could generate a crowd of this magnitude on this much notice, and that's a tribute to NASCAR, and that's the reason we're here, because we badly wanted and now have the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame is going to be our crown jewel downtown. We'll have a new ballroom. We'll have entertainment. We'll have reverence. This will be a special building, and we know you'll want to come and enjoy it time after time after time.
A couple of things about the project itself. It will be the crown jewel of Charlotte and the region and the state, a defining destination asset that's reverent, celebrates a history of the sport, celebrates the sports heroes, interactive entertainment, adjacent to the convention center, a new ballroom, if we are lucky it will also be part of a complex that would include an office building that would be anchored by some of NASCAR's employees, which would be something for the city and for the second ward. We're extremely excited about that.
A couple of thank yous before I turn it over to Cathy. First of all, to NASCAR. There's a feeling in this area that we've been together since the start. We are in a lot of respects like two people who have been in a relationship for a long time, and before we get married, somebody has to go out and look around and make sure they're ready to make a lifetime commitment.
We never worried about the relationship, even when we got news reports that y'all were flirting in public places with other pretty people. So to NASCAR, for your vote of confidence, thank you and welcome home. This is home. We love NASCAR.
Secondly, to the hospitality industry here in Charlotte and the region. The whole idea of an underwritten financing plan started with Mohamed Jenatian, Robby Patel (ph) and Smokey Bissell (ph) representing the industry, their early and continuous support was invaluable, as was the support of the Mecklenburg delegation, as was the support of the state, as was the support of the many corporate sponsors from Charlotte and the region, as was the support of Bank of America and Wachovia. We have spent your money well, tirelessly, in huge amounts, and we deeply appreciate your support.
A final thing is just a thank you to the team that helped put this together, the group behind us. With a team like that, anything is possible. It happened. NASCAR, our future together, is hopefully as bright as this tie. We thank you for picking us. We look forward to the future. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Luther. Another one of the crew chiefs for this effort was the chair of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce for 2005, chief marketing officer for Bank of America, Cathy Bessant.
CATHY BESSANT: You know, Luther, there's only one thing to add to your a analogy, which is sometimes the hometown sweetheart does prevail, right?
A couple of thoughts here. First of all, I want to thank everybody who has come out. It doesn't surprise me at all we have a great crowd today. It took just about this many people to put this bid and this proposal and this outcome together. So thank you to everybody in the room and to everybody that supported us along the way.
There are a couple of things that it takes to have a vibrant city. First, the spirit and the will of its people. Secondly, tremendous assets. I think today we're celebrating both things. Charlotte and this region and this state is a region, city and state of tremendous will and spirit of its people. We are honoring that I think with this outstanding announcement today.
It's also a city and a region of very important assets. Today we add an asset to the vibrance of our community. We'll have a travel and tourism destination. We will honor and expand and grow and support and give sanctuary to one of our most important industries, a $6 billion industry, an industry that is so deeply in our blood, so much in the air that we breathe every day, that it's important and right and just for it to be honored here.
The second thing I'd like to say for just a second is a tribute to NASCAR. Not only was this an attractive and exciting and just downright outstanding opportunity because NASCAR is as special as it is. This process was conducted really in a way that gave tribute to NASCAR and all of the people that help run it. It was direct, it was open, it was honest, and it was transparent throughout the discussion process. I really think that that speaks to the quality of the organization that we'll be partners with as we move forward.
Finally, I'd like to just recognize the private sector here in this region. This was an incredible private sector effort. I was honored to chair the Chamber of Commerce. The chamber and every other private sector business organization in the city was behind this bid from the start and provided manpower and money and expertise, intellectual excitement, and really made this bid and this region's presentation what it was today. So very proud today to represent the private sector as well.
With that, I'll turn it back to you. Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Cathy. Brian, I told you a couple weeks ago there may have been a time that folks could rightly question the support of the private sector. They can't do that any more here in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Another gentleman who was a strong part of that, a good friend, senior vice president of Wachovia Corporation John Tate.
JOHN TATE: Onto the exciting part of the program which deals with financing (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Somebody has to understand it.
JOHN TATE: Quite honestly, on a serious note, the design from the outset was not to leverage this Hall of Fame. Layering debt on the operations of the Hall of Fame was absolutely something we were committed not to do. Further, we knew from the outset that both NASCAR and the city needed to be non-recourse, meaning having no liability on any debt that would be necessary from the private sector.
I would tell you that considerable due diligence was put in place in structuring our pro formas, our projections relative to the operations of the hall. We looked closely at other halls, and my thanks to those directors at other halls who were kind enough to share information with us, specifically the Rock'n Roll in Cleveland, Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, and other sports-related venues, football, basketball, baseball that each of you are familiar with.
Last but not least, and my friends at NASCAR have stated this over and over again, is the value, the underlying value, of 102 and a half million bonded indebtedness stemming from an incremental 2% tax from the hospitality industry. That was absolutely critical to our plan.
That brings me to my next point, and you've heard partnership mentioned several times by my peers, we truly have had a public/private partnership of unprecedented proportions. The hotel/motel industry which Luther mentioned, Mohamed and leadership from within the ranks of the hotel and motel trade were absolutely a solid partner, and we could not have gotten this done through the legislature and presently here locally County Commission, City Council, were it not for the support of that industry.
They know the value that the hall brings to the region. Our friends at the state provided key support, first with our delegation. I want to say thanks to them. First, the hospitality tax, support of the local delegation, legislature. We had almost a unanimous vote. Then our friends in the governor's office to assist on the path of interchange improvements that are to occur just south of the hall on 277. From those improvements excess land will be generated, and it is through that excess land that the banks have been able to provide financing through a bridge facility to help construct the hall.
Next, the mayor, City Council, city staff, along with CRVA, the last ably led by Tim Newman to my left, all along the way I thank these folks for having the courage, vision and stamina to see this project through.
Finally, the private sector. Cathy alluded to it, Luther alluded to it. Rick Hendrick, who departed, was a help all the way through this project. My competitive friends up the street at Bank of America, Cathy whom you've heard from, Jan, her chief of staff who is a personal that flat gets it done, the organization that you see today is in large measure a hallmark of Jan's work. Allen Stevens, who is in the office. Our pro formas would flat not be on the quality they are if it weren't for the modeling ability of Allen and the persistence throughout with attention to detail.
Lastly our friends at NASCAR. They have brought us this incredibly valuable asset to the table in the form of their brand. The bar, the marks that you see from NASCAR, the 75 million fans that week in, week out celebrate this sport. What better folks to be partners with in the creation of this hall? We look forward to a sustained, long-term partnership.
Finally, what all this says is this is about teamwork. The leadership on this dais and others you've heard from today, we are proud that this process has represented just that, teamwork. My thanks to my peers in the process.
THE MODERATOR: Speaking of teamwork, somebody's got to be the coach, the quarterback, whatever you want to call it. You've heard the mayor talk about the nine-month process. We got the RFP about a year ago. But the concept, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, was first introduced to the Charlotte community, would we be interested, to this gentleman back when he was president of the Charlotte center city partners. He's moved over to be the CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. He really has been the glue that has held us together through this whole process, Tim Newman.
TIM NEWMAN: Thank you all. As my chairman, Luther Cochrane, said to you the hospitality industry told me early on in this effort that the two months that nobody has to worry about making payroll and making mortgage payments are May and October, which just so happen to coincide with our Nextel Cup events and the All-Star Challenge in the community. On that basis we for the last several years have been working real hard to support the All-Star Challenge and had the makings of the effort already in place when NASCAR decided to engage in the process of selecting a location for its Hall of Fame.
Mark Dyer, who has become my teammate in terms of the day-to-day logistics from NASCAR, and Blake Davidson, who is in the audience here, had some very early conversations. Then when the RFP came out, we were able to very quickly assemble a team for this once in a lifetime opportunity. The hospitality industry certainly gets it. I'm glad Mohamed was mentioned along with the Charlotte area hotel association. They were early partners of ours.
A number of the organizations that were helpful to us, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, outstanding help. Charlotte Regional Partnership, the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission, Center City Partners, my old home, which has done such a great job coordinating this evident for a great asset for Charlotte's center city. Our friends in the region, (indiscernible) County was well represented, (indiscernible) County is represented. Chairman Helms, I thank you in the advance for the work the county commission will be doing over the next couple weeks. We appreciate the support the Mecklenburg County commission has given us.
A group of people who worked hours and hours and hours also deserve a great deal of credit. The NASCAR legal team led by Tracy and the city's legal team lead by Mack McCarley spent I think in total about 200 hours working through this document over a period that led up to the document being finalized on Monday of last week. They're due a great credit, and many partners, all of the folks who have now gotten some rest, know who you are. Thank you so much.
Then the team I have to personally thank is the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority team. I have a wonderful team who NASCAR is now going to get to work with very closely as we design this building and run this facility. They have allowed me the time to get this work done. So it has been a total team effort. Brian and Mike, we appreciate it. We just look forward to getting the real work underway now.
THE MODERATOR: We've heard about the teamwork that's gone on here in the Charlotte region. It's literally taken a team of people from NASCAR. I remember early on getting asked the question, what did I think about the process, was a decision made. I believed all along that the process would lead to the right end result, whatever that was, and that NASCAR was looking for what was best for the host city and NASCAR because nobody stands to lose any more than those two organizations and gain any more. Somebody had to be the quarterback and the point person for NASCAR, and somebody that's done an outstanding job, has been very open, very up front, very candid with all the potential cities, is the vice president of licensing for NASCAR, Mr. Mark Dyer.
MARK DYER: Thank you, Winston. I know you want to get into questions about taxes and pro formas and all those details that are important. I think Mike Helton, our president, said this best in a meeting we had about an hour and a half ago. This is a great day for Charlotte, but this is also a great day for the millions of NASCAR fans and the people who love this sport across the country. To think that we're going to be able to induct these immortals, the Earnhardts, Pettys, Pearsons, Allisons, Darrel Waltrip, who is here in today's audience, that's what this is really all about, that this sport, after 58 years and another three or four years of construction, is going to have a world class Hall of Fame to takes a backseat to no other professional sport in America.
The fact that it's in Charlotte is a great bonus. This city, this state put together a tremendous effort that's all been talked about. Bank of America, Wachovia, were crucial in coming together arm in arm in partnership to help make this happen. Luther Cochrane and Tim Newman, CRVA, carried the ball early on in this process and put together the right kind of support for the effort.
I can say that today is the beginning of the realization of our dream at NASCAR to have a Hall of Fame, to celebrate the sport in a manner that it's going to be when we open in four short years. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: You've heard from most everybody else on the dais up here. Also joining us, I think these two gentlemen don't need any introduction, also available to answer questions, the president of NASCAR, who regardless of what Rick says I'm not going to tell him what to do because I still know where my hard card comes from, Mr. Mike Helton. Also the chair of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners, Mr. Parks Helms. Thanks so much for you joining us today as well.
At this time we'll take questions from the media.
Q. I gather from the materials that the content of the hall in terms of photographic archives, video footage, comes from NASCAR. Who pays for or where does the actual contents, the presentations for the Hall of Fame, the vintage race cars, all those contents, does NASCAR provide that or is that something that will have to be purchased?
MARK DYER: I think it will be a combination of sources that content will come from. I think quite a bit of stuff will be loaned. I think in some cases these car owners, Richard Childress, for instance, at his museum has some tremendous pieces that Dale Earnhardt drove in his career.
I doubt that Richard is going to part with a lot of that stuff permanently. I think you'll see things rotated out on exhibit. I think a lot of things will be donated to the Hall of Fame. We have a pretty extensive archive in Daytona that I think Luther and his team will be on a plane down there pretty soon to go check out. They're in the process of inventorying all that.
There's a tremendous amount of digital content that has been created by NASCAR images, that is being created every day. I think one thing you'll see is this will be the most technologically advanced Hall of Fame ever built because we have the benefit of building a brand-new building with a very nice budget, with today's technology, today's architectural know-how. I think that will allow us to give the fans a great experience and it will be changeable out over time.
Q. Brian, what role did the City of Atlanta and more specifically Underground Atlanta play in the origination of this idea some four years ago?
BRIAN FRANCE: They played a big role. They played a big role in generating ideas in the short run. Obviously, they played a big role as we went on through the process. They had a wonderful site, a lot of enthusiasm. They played an important role in highlighting how important the Hall of Fame could be to us at NASCAR.
Q. Mr. France, I'm wondering, the economists at UNS Charlotte tell us the All-Star race is worth $100 million a year to the economy, and the Hall of Fame will be worth a projected $63 million a year. I'm wondering if it's possible that Charlotte could win the Hall of Fame and lose the All-Star race?
BRIAN FRANCE: Anything is possible with respect to the All-Star race, which is obviously a separate situation. Right now we're very happy with where it is. It's working well. The folks at Lowe's are doing a good job promoting that event.
But as all of our events are year to year, we look at them like we would look at any event as we go along.
Q. Brian, that big building to be built on the Hall of Fame site, is NASCAR planning to move their executive offices here to Charlotte?
BRIAN FRANCE: We already have, between the R&D center, licensing and merchandising, we have a big contingent of employees already here. Our plan is not to move our headquarters. We're happy with where that is now, Daytona Beach. But like here, New York, Los Angeles, we have a lot of personnel. It will be a nice fit if we can get that piece of this agreement done. I think it will complement the Hall of Fame. It will be good for NASCAR, as well.
Q. What was the deciding factor? You had five cities in the beginning, then three. What was the deciding factor that ruled the other two out?
BRIAN FRANCE: You know, it wasn't so much of what somebody didn't do. There's been a lot of internal discussion in terms of all the sites had great benefits, all had different kinds of benefits. Atlanta obviously had a great location, had a lot of corporate support. In the end, there was just too many benefits for us to ignore here in Charlotte. It wasn't any one thing, but it certainly was a collection of things. The light went off to us that Charlotte, North Carolina is where the Hall of Fame needs to be.
Q. Mr. France and Mr. Helton, Felix Sabates was quoted today as saying that safety in downtown Atlanta was at least a concern during part of this process. Is that true? Mike, did Felix in fact make those comments to you?
MIKE HELTON: No, he didn't make them to me. I think anybody that follows the sport knows that maybe NASCAR and Felix doesn't necessarily always agree on things.
I will tell you from firsthand experience, though, I lived in Atlanta. I ran the track there in Atlanta. I'm a big fan of the City of Atlanta because it's a great metropolitan area that has great culture, great citizenry, great corporate involvement, hosting the Olympics. You can't could big things like that without being a first-class city. I think Atlanta is that.
Q. I guess this is for Mark. Have any decisions been made about the how's, the who's, the process, induction, all that kind of stuff?
MARK DYER: I'm going to worry about building it and let the people down in a couple chairs here down the row worry about induction process. I can tell you it will be done with integrity and credibility.
Q. A theme that keeps popping up this afternoon is that this was a natural fit, the Hall of Fame coming to Charlotte. Mr. France, was this in any way a process that was ultimately Charlotte's to lose?
BRIAN FRANCE: I wouldn't say that. I think they obviously put a big foot forward with the hotel tax right away, showed a lot of community enthusiasm when we went on our site visits. Then all the rest of the benefits unfold as you go through the process. The more we understand what their original proposal was, again, over a long period of time.
But I got to tell you, this was a very tough decision. It didn't come down -- this wasn't made two weeks ago. This was made this weekend. We finally said, this is where we need to land. It was that difficult of a decision. It's a credit to Atlanta and Daytona Beach and for that matter Richmond and Kansas City.
CATHY BESSANT: I might add one thing to that. The entire community, but most certainly the folks that worked on this deal, didn't take Charlotte's natural position in the industry for granted for one single second. In fact, we almost behaved as if it might work against us to be so well-known and to have such a concentration of assets. If anything, honoring those assets made us double down and work even harder, not wanting to let the industry down that's so indigenous here and not wanting to maybe deal with a potential counterpsychology that would say to put it somewhere unexpected. We worked this from get-go.
Q. Brian, can you talk about the final meeting where the decision was made to award the Hall of Fame in Charlotte. Who was in the meeting? Who got to vote on it?
BRIAN FRANCE: All our board would vote on anything as significant as this. Not only that, but we had any number of people that worked on the project, from Mark and others, who gathered around. We thought we knew at one point where the outcome might go. But, again, we're going through the process. As late as Friday, we were looking at information from both Atlanta and Daytona.
While the board ultimately makes the call, they wanted to reserve their right, including up to this weekend, to make sure they understood all the benefits that each city was bringing forward. That didn't happen till this weekend.
Q. Mr. France and also the mayor, you spoke about this a little bit, at what point did you say, that's it, Charlotte has it? Also, the same thing for the mayor, when did you find out it looked pretty good, like Charlotte would get the Hall of Fame?
BRIAN FRANCE: The final decision in our view came yesterday. I'll leave it at that. We had an idea. Again, there was so much information pouring in all last week. Atlanta did a revision to their financing package which played a role in us having to look at some things. Daytona was clarifying things, making sure all the benefits they were putting forward were understood by us.
While you might think something is going one way, we wanted to make sure we were thorough and complete.
CATHY BESSANT: Did you see how fast we took away that signed document? None of us knew till that precise moment.
Q. Mayor, Mr. France, could you comment, a lot of cities have professional sports franchises, only one Hall of Fame. Where does this put Charlotte as being a world class sports city?
MAYOR McCRORY: Again, I compare it not just to sports, but it's sports and entertainment. As I said in one of my talks, the beginning of this thing, when you think of Nashville, you think of country music. When you think of Pasadena, you think of the Rose Bowl. The list goes on and on. These cities have that long-term message to an industry, mainly travel and tourism, which we wanted to expand here in Charlotte. We think the NASCAR Hall of Fame finalizes the claim to being a very important stop in the NASCAR and racing industry.
By the way, this again complements so much of the other racing infrastructure that we have in this area, from Evernham, Penske, Hendrick, Earnhardt, all of their facilities. We've always said this was part of a total plan. This just helps seal that effort regarding -- I've always said it's kind of like the Napa Valley concept. Where you go from San Francisco, from there you go out to the rest of the wine country and visit all the wineries. Here you come to Charlotte, see the Hall of Fame here, and from here it's a jumping off point where you can go to Moorseville, Concord, all the way to Randleman and visit the Petty facility. It could be a week-long experience for the true race fan.
I think it's also going to help introduce new fans to the sport as they come to Charlotte for conventions and other entertainment reasons.
Q. Cathy, John and Tim Newman, on the pro formas, it starts to look like operating losses about 2015. Can you explain that, what's going on there, how that affects the royalties as well?
JOHN TATE: Keep in mind that when we started this process, the byline was sustainability. I doubt if there's anybody on this stage that thinks we're going to be doing 400,000 of general gate revenue. We have purposely structured our pro formas conservatively. My hat is tipped to NASCAR. You will also notice when those "deficits" present themselves, NASCAR is deferring its royalty payments. NASCAR is not going to take any payments that are putting us into the red to dig out of the reserves of the Hall of Fame.
I would tell you this team is absolutely committed to running a first-class Hall of Fame, and we'll be sorely disappointed if we're not generating positive cash flow year in, year out, well after this thing is not brand-new.
TIM NEWMAN: From the get go, we said to the City Council, to the county and to the state that the public sector would not be at risk for operating performance on the hall. To make a statement like that, you've got to have what is a true break-even sustainable number. If you look carefully, you see a slight deficit one year offset by a slight surplus the next year once you get out of the sustainable case. Also as a CRVA-run facility, we can get very effective, very quickly, if we need to to manage expenses. That's why we will have a public budget process as part of our budget. Our boards along with the advisory committee, that NASCAR will be a member of, will be looking well in advance of any of those event eventualities.
Q. Did NASCAR insist that the city council vote on the deal tonight? If so, why?
MARK DYER: Actually, the timetable, the way it developed, there's not another council meeting for about three weeks, I think, after tonight's council meeting. To go through another agonizing three weeks of this process when I think everyone had process fatigue, we didn't insist on anything, but it was a joint decision between us and the city that this would be the right timetable.
Q. Mr. Newman said that the legal people got together and a contract was finalized last week, but the decision wasn't made since yesterday. Tell me the difference and put those two together for me.
BRIAN FRANCE: Real simple. Obviously there has to be a contract understood by both groups. We were very clear that we reserved the right. I didn't sign it till today. We had to continue our process, make sure we were not missing anything. The entire committee and the negotiating group understood that. While I'm sure there was a lot of hope and anticipation that it would get done, I can assure you that we had to keep our options open for all the reasons I've cited today.
Q. Mark, you were involved with the NASCAR cafes. Can we look at having something of that nature? What other events or celebrations will be surrounding the building of the Hall of Fame?
MARK DYER: Well, I think we use the word "attraction" on the overall facility. The Hall of Fame itself, the place where the inductees are immortalized will be kind of a separate room, if you will, very large room, and it will be handled a certain way that would be fitting the enshrinement of the people that will be inducted and enshrined there. Other parts of the facility will be very entertainment oriented. We're working on a concept to have high definition showing of races every weekend, the Busch races, truck races, Cup races. We don't want this to be a static kind of sterile facility that people might go to once and they've had enough for two or three years. We think there will be a tremendous annual pass program sold to the people in this region that are going to want to come watch races, bring their families during weekends and holidays.
I think you'll see a lot of interactive exhibits and things where people can really experience the feel of being in a race car. Again, we're already having exciting discussions with NASCAR Images as far as the media content that, as you guys know in the media, is being gathered every day at lightning speed. A lot of that's going to be made available to fans almost on a real-time basis because one of the components of this facility is going to be a new NASCAR news room that is going to be a nerve center of creating NASCAR content for that whole wireless world out there, all the things to come in the future.
BRIAN FRANCE: One of the benefits, to add to what Mark just said, that Charlotte had all along was the ability to create original content because of the teams, the density of the NASCAR family being right here. The fact that we're going -- not only you know we're going to do the induction ceremonies, they're going to be great, live programming, but even all week long we'll have opportunities to showcase our drivers, our teams, our tracks with SPEED Channel, ESPN, whoever it might be, to create some programming, things that come away from the Hall of Fame. A lot to do in the future.
MAYOR McCRORY: That's something exciting have to Charlotte, have the communications coming right out at the Hall of Fame location with the byline of Charlotte, North Carolina, not only to the rest of the nation, but to the rest of the world. We feel very, very positive about the long-term branding to help us in our efforts.
PARKS HELMS: Unless you think the county has been only a silent partner on this, we have worked in a very complementary manner, in ways that I think have enhanced the opportunity to imagine really what will happen going forward.
One of the things that we see is that this will actually be a tax-generator for Mecklenburg County, property tax, sales tax, and so from the citizen's perspective, I think we need to look at it not just from the sports and entertainment, we've already mentioned it several times, but this is an economic driver.
Finally I would say this. I have been a very quiet participant in this. I only know what the mayor was willing to tell me and only when he wanted me to know. But I knew the value of this announcement to create the character for this community. The other thing I thought about, Pat, do you know the still have the key to start this thing up? It won't happen till we turn this switch. This Board of County Commissioners is prepared to turn this switch to make this thing run at mach speed. There will be a public hearing. I'm sure we'll have the same folks here today coming and supporting our decision in implementing that little key switch.
It's been an exciting time.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: This is a partnership. You're seeing the true partnership. Parks, thanks for your incredible support, county commission.
Q. A lot of the talk has been about Atlanta and Charlotte. Was Daytona ever really a serious competitor or were they just made a finalist kind of out of courtesy? I guess for Brian and Mike, what do you say to some of the people in Daytona who may be watching and feel like NASCAR being associated with Daytona is being taken away?
BRIAN FRANCE: I would say that they host the biggest race on the circuit, and hopefully they always will, being the Daytona 500. They were always a serious candidate. They had some challenges. They were a smaller market obviously than Atlanta or Charlotte. Some of their financing issues were always, they will tell you this, a bit uphill for them. But they had a lot of things going for them, notably the heritage issue, where we're based.
But in the end we have to do what's good for the long-term viability of the Hall of Fame, not where I necessarily want to see it, where we're based. It's who put the best plan forward, and Charlotte did that, and that's where it is.
Q. Mr. France, we have a lot of folks calling the radio that the happy the hall is coming. They didn't want public money used for it. What do you have to say to them?
BRIAN FRANCE: I think the entertainment tax, the hotel tax funds a large measure of it. People staying in the hotels, people are part of the racing community anyway. And I think you're hearing the economic benefits. You do have to invest from time to time to get the right return. I think when this is all understood even more clearly than it is today, they will look at this as a wonderful investment by the way they've done it and I think the results they'll get.
I want to see a day when this is synonymous, like Canton, Ohio, is synonymous with football's Hall of Fame. I think that Charlotte is going to get a lot of things down the road tangible and intangible. I think the taxpaying citizens will find that without.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Let me clarify, we need to clarify what the public money is because that's a very general phrase, the way it's worded. I heard some of that this morning. I think it was a little misleading.
It's the hotel industry that decided to tax themselves, that is really going to be paying for this. That tax couldn't be implemented and approved to be used on our basic infrastructure because the hotel industry wouldn't let that happen, nor would it be fair to pick on one industry to pay for all of our other needs in the city, which we to have. Everyone should share in that expense.
But this is a tax which they agreed to because they think it will help their industry and help put heads in beds. So I hope you clarify that. This is a travel and tourism tax to the hotel industry that they agreed to because they think it will help their business. They are basically taxing themselves.
I might add that the private sector is stepping up to the plate a great deal to help supplement the cost of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. So none of the money being paid for this could have or can be used for our other needs, the roads, the police, the fire. I hope that's clarified. We couldn't have got this tax approved for that effort because that wouldn't have been fair to that industry. I'd like to thank that industry for being willing to put their money on the table for this 'cause they see the long-term benefit.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: This is a county-wide tax. This county-wide tax doesn't go to the towns, it goes all to the city for this single purpose.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I'd like to thank the mayors of each of the towns. They agreed to this. Many were here today in addition to the Mecklenburg County board of commissioners.
Q. Mr. France or somebody else with NASCAR, could you talk a little bit more about the office tower, how big it will be, how tall it will be, what you envision doing there, and when you'll make a decision about whether or not that's something you want to go forward to.
BRIAN FRANCE: I'll defer that. That's also in development. I think that's something together we're working on we're going to try to see if we can design something that will complement something.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: It's contemplated to be a 300,000 square feet office tower designed by Pei (indiscernible), the world renowned architects that submitted the original design that Charlotte ultimately was victorious with.
It will be totally incorporated, integrated as one building if we elect to go forward and do it, which we've got to make that decision over the next six months, try to put that together. But it will be at our expense. There's going to be no further commitment than what's been explained to you today on the part of the city. But it's a very exciting possibility for us and we think it could attract some other tenants, especially in the NASCAR industry. We think it's a positive step for downtown and the whole Hall of Fame site.
Q. This is for Mark, since you're leading this. In other professional sports, journalists vote in the Hall of Fame candidates. That's a way of keeping it independent and impartial. Have you considered how you're going to do that?
MARK DYER: No, we've got four years before the building opens. Certainly I think a lot of thought is going to be put into this. Fortunately, I don't have to worry about this area of the company. I'm going to worry about working with our partners to build a first-class facility, how to market it, how to program the facility. The inductions will be handled.
Again, we've had some preliminary discussion, and I can tell you it will be done with the highest integrity and credibility. This is going to be everybody's NASCAR Hall of Fame. It's got to be done right.
BRIAN FRANCE: Let me follow up a little bit. First of all, NASCAR is in kind of a unique timetable, of its history and looking going forward. We still have people today who remember its beginnings. We're doing something today that's going to look 32 years down the road. So we're at a very unique time in our history. That's what makes this such a big topic for us.
When we got to this point, we've obviously been focused on the details of where it goes and what it's going to be like and who is going to do what needs to be done around it. Now that we've got to this point, we can start talking about the operational part of the induction ceremony, who chooses who. The good thing is we've got a pretty good pool to pick from of people who should be in the museum or the Hall of Fame, and we've got a pretty strong industry group from the media, the teams, that can come together to help us develop the process along with the City of Charlotte and CRVA to determine how that's going to be done so that it will be done, as Mark says, on a level that everybody understands and has credibility with.
Q. Brian, you said that two years ago you guys discussed that NASCAR was the only major sport without a Hall of Fame. You were approached by Atlanta officials four years ago. Is it fair to say that the idea came from Atlanta?
BRIAN FRANCE: No. I mean, we've been talking about it for 10 years. I would say it got very serious in the last several years, last couple years. I don't remember the exact moment where we said -- where we said we need to have a specific NASCAR Hall of Fame.
I just know in the last couple of years, the good news for us is we went through the process and confirmed that we really need a place to house our past, present and future. The exact timetable, it was recent when we got serious.
Q. Brian and Mark, I asked Richard Petty about this a year ago. He said you guys were going to make this decision on the greenery. I'm wondering if the greenery here was markedly better than Atlanta and Daytona or was Atlanta about the same?
BRIAN FRANCE: Driving around Charlotte, it does look more green to me. I guess you get more rain or what have you.
BRIAN FRANCE: They're blooming I guess in the fall, right (laughter)?
No, let me say two things about the financial end. One for us, it's an inconsequential thing for NASCAR. Really, the most important thing that you need to know, the group, everybody on the stage, was zeroed in on, was the viability of (indiscernible) the Hall of Fame, of building a first-class, never-before-seen quality Hall of Fame, keeping it going. It takes a lot of money to do that.
When you hear financial models, entertainment tower, we zero in on it from NASCAR's standpoint. This Hall of Fame needs to have as much reinvested in it as possible.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for taking the time to come out and for your questions and interest.
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