Council to discuss selling or leasing LJVM, Bowman Gray Stadium

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Winston-Salem City Council will talk on Monday about what to do with a money-losing coliseum and stadium.

City officials said the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Bowman Gray Stadium have operated at a total loss of nearly $4 million over the last four years. Plus, the facilities need about $15 million in repairs.

Council has cut the city budget in each of the past five years, and some councilmembers said the only places left to trim are the entertainment venues.

"We have definitely cut as much as I believe we can cut without cutting services for our citizens," said Councilman James Taylor.

Council is considering several options: keep both facilities, let a private management company rent and run them, or sell them.

City leaders said Wake Forest has expressed interest in buying the coliseum, and Winston-Salem State University has explored buying the stadium.

Officials at both schools told FOX8's Brent Campbell that it's too early in council's process to talk about their intentions. Council would like to have some type of decision in place by mid-summer.

The coliseum is used more than 100 times a year. The stadium, even with Winston-Salem Speedway, Inc. and Winston-Salem State University as tenants, loses nearly $10,000 every year, city figures show.

Losses at the coliseum are much worse, topping more than $700,000 a year. The coliseum also has a lot of maintenance needs, city officials said.

"The coliseum has a lot of needs when it comes to maintenance, and some of that differed because of budgetary issues the city has had during this recession time," said Councilman Derwin Montgomery.

Regardless of what happens at Bowman Gray, Winston-Salem Speedway, Inc. has a 20-year lease there. Councilmembers said that whatever happens, they aim to keep all the events at both facilities.

"Both with the coliseum and Bowman Gray, they are areas that bring different types of thing to the city," Montgomery said.

"We want to make sure that, whatever we do, we maintain all of the events at Bowman Gray Stadium and LJVM Coliseum," Taylor said.

The special budget meeting starts at 4 p.m. Monday.

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