We hope Bruton Smith will stick to his promise to keep Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. -- forever.
The recent announcement that the speedway would stay put ended weeks of speculation -- fanned by Smith -- that it might be moved to another city. Rock Hill was prominently mentioned as a possible site, as were Mount Holly and Huntersville in North Carolina.
Smith insisted the threat to close the speedway and build a new track somewhere else in the Charlotte region was not a bluff. But it did get the attention of officials from Concord, Cabarrus County and the state of North Carolina, who, together, agreed to provide about $80 million in incentives -- mostly road improvements near the track -- to keep Smith from moving.
Smith, meanwhile, plans to build a $60 million drag strip and spend up to $200 million on speedway renovations and upgrades. All in all, the deal could be good for all involved.
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Local officials said they made no effort to lure the speedway southward.
While some might have welcomed a track in York County, the move undoubtedly would have required considerable incentives, probably more than the $80 million offered to persuade Smith to stay put. And, of course, we'll never know for sure whether Smith's threat to move was simply leverage to pry more money out of the city, county and state.
In the end, the decision by local officials not to mount a ruthless campaign to snatch the speedway from Concord might help maintain cordial regional relations. As the needs of cities and counties ringing Charlotte continue to overlap, thinking regionally will be crucial.
It's a relief that local officials didn't give away the farm to attract speedway to county.