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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bill Containing Winston-Salem State's Stadium Bid Passes

The North Carolina General Assembly tentatively agreed to Winston-Salem State's bid to buy Bowman Gray Stadium. (Winston-Salem Journal photo)

Winston-Salem State has won a lot of football games at Bowman Gray Stadium in the past few years, but it may have scored its biggest win in the North Carolina State Legislature.The Winston-Salem Journal reports that the university's bid to buy the stadium from the City of Winston-Salem, tentatively agreed to by the NC General Assembly on Wednesday, was approved by the Senate on Thursday.
The bill containing the proposed $7.1 million purchase, passed on a 102-10 vote according to state Rep. Ed Haines. The bill will now head Governor Pat McCrory's desk for signature. It must also be approved by the Winston-Salem City Council and the N.C. Council of State before the deal is finalized. 

This news comes a little over a week after the university's plan to buy the stadium appeared to hit a snag. A state House Finance committee stripped the project from a bill that supporting improvements to schools in the UNC system after some legislators expressed opposition. A representative from Winston-Salem's home county halted the bill after expressing concern over how the proposed purchase would effect stock car racing at the stadium.

Bowman Gray is considered hallowed ground for many racing fans, as it is known as "NASCAR's longest-running weekly race track." After the bill was stripped, delegates from the university, the city and the Winston-Salem Speedway INC met and hammered out some final details, according to state representative Donny Lambeth. 

Those details include the following provisions:

-The name of the stadium will not change
-Fees would not be charged for parking during races
-No decrease in parking spots would be made

The university will continue to use the stadium as a home football field, and will be allowed to use the surrounding land for future development.

“We feel we’ve addressed all the remaining concerns now. I guess you could say (Rep. Dale) Folwell sort of did us a favor,” Lambeth told the Winston-Salem Journal. “He gave us time to become directly engaged with the racing people without City Council members involved.”

This purchase has been a long time coming for WSSU. The school attempted to buy the stadium last summer, before the state legislature killed those plans. But true to form, WSSU did not give up and as a result, they will soon own one of the better venues in HBCU football.

Also see: Winston, We Have A Problem 


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Steven J. Gaither is a multimedia journalist and founder of HBCU Gameday. Steven began covering HBCU Sports nearly a decade ago as a student at Winston-Salem State University. His work can also be found at The Shadow League, Diverse Issues In Higher Education and Slam Online.