No new talks are scheduled to try to end a standoff between Lowe's Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith and Cabarrus County leaders over Smith's $80 million incentives package.
A 15-minute phone call last week between the billionaire and county commissioners Chairman Jay White also did not lead to any progress.
And Smith's company's apparent decision to pull out of efforts to bring a Professional Golfers' Association tournament to the county has some local officials worried how the incentives impasse is affecting the community.
The incentives package is tied to extensive road improvements in the speedway area. The two sides are far apart on how long local government would take to repay Smith's Speedway Motorsports for fronting costs of that work.
Last year, Smith threatened to move the speedway out of Cabarrus County after Concord blocked his plans to build a drag strip.
A general agreement was reached just before Thanksgiving. In exchange for incentives, Smith was expected to build the $60 million drag strip and make $200 million in speedway upgrades.
In August, local officials presented details to Smith, including a plan that could take up to 40 years to deliver the bulk of the incentives, through grants tied to the tax value of the new investments.
Soon after that, Smith said he no longer trusted local officials and insisted that the deal be completed in three to five years. Government leaders said that timeframe would blow a hole through their budgets.
Smith also said that while he couldn't move the track, there were other steps he could take; he declined to name them. Smith was not available for comment Thursday, and speedway spokesman Scott Cooper declined to comment on the incentives or golf issues.
In April, speedway officials said they had begun preliminary work to add a PGA Nationwide Tour event in 2009 around the time of the fall NASCAR race. That tournament circuit is considered one step below the major-league PGA Tour.
By July, talk focused on bringing the tour to The Club at Irish Creek in Kannapolis, which had recently undergone extensive renovations designed by PGA star Davis Love III.
Jeff Austin, the club's general manager, said Thursday that an SMI official told him last month the company would no longer be involved with trying to land the event for 2009, because of current economic conditions.
Jeff Monday, the Nationwide Tour's senior vice president for business affairs, said he was still talking to SMI and others about bringing the tour to the Charlotte area.
The event could have an estimated economic impact of $6.4 million in direct visitor spending, according to the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The bureau's leader, DeSales Wagster, said her agency was trying to land other title sponsors.
If there is a link between the PGA issue and the incentives standoff, Wagster said, “then it's important to find a compromise on the incentives deal so our economy can continue to expand.”
But that compromise could be a long time in coming.
Because two of five Cabarrus County commissioner seats are up for election in November, White said, the board will likely not take up the issue until December, when the new members are seated.
He added, though, that if SMI called and said “Let's work it out now,” that could happen, too.
White said he told Smith during their phone call that both sides need to be realistic about finding a solution.
“It's frustrating,” White said. “We agreed to disagree.”