More of what’s going around, including several follow-ups:
-Ali McGhee, who has led Asheville Grit for the past couple of years, has announced that she’s accepted a new position as a producer with a new media venture called AVL Today. Asheville Grit, as y’all know, is a partner online publication with AshvegasDotCom in covering news and entertainment in Asheville. AVL Today promises to create new content and curate other content covering Asheville and deliver that to email subscribers every morning. Ali starts her new job at the beginning of the new year. Ali’s been great to work with and I wish her all the best!
-Following up the recent reports of a racially charged conflict during a high school basketball game in which North Buncombe hosted Polk County: WLOS-TV reports that school officials from both schools say they’ve investigated the incident and disciplined three North Buncombe students. The school officials didn’t explain the incident or say what disciplinary measures they took. According to newspaper and TV reports, people at the game were yelling racial slurs at Polk players and making lynching gestures. No actual nooses were displayed, WLOS reports, which contradicts an earlier newspaper report.
-Following up my recent report offering details on the deal to bring the first round of the Fed Cup women’s international tennis tournament: A key factor in Asheville’s bid to the U.S. Tennis Association for the event was that the USTA could have the U.S. Cellular Center rent-free. Chris Corl, the U.S. Cellular Center’s director, explained earlier this month that local tourism officials have the ability to dictate that the cost of the renting the arena – $40,000 – be waived for one event per year. That agreement is part of a $1.5 million grant awarded by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority in 2016. The Fed Cup event is the first to enjoy the fee waiver, which will be in place through calendar year 2025. There are certain criteria that an event must meet to qualify for the waiver, Corl says, such as guaranteed foot and beverage spends at the civic center, a minimum need for total room nights and the fact that the event must have the potential to create future business.
-Following up my recent report regarding an effort to bring a new basketball tournament to Asheville over Thanksgiving weekend 2018: Chris Corl, director of the U.S. Cellular Center, says the tournament organizer envisions a six-team event that would including three teams from major conferences, including one team from the ACC, and three teams from mid-major conferences. The event has not been finalized yet.
-Speaking of the U.S. Cellular Center: It recently hosted the annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam, which sells out each year. About 7,000 fans turn out to enjoy a show that lasts about seven hours. (The event raises money for the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity.) The fans also enjoy beer, including a Christmas Jam ale that’s brewed special each year. This year, Christmas Jam attendees ordered 6,713 16-ounce pours of beer and 4,125 24-ounce pours of beer. That’s the equivalent of 17,200 12-ounce pours of beer. (Note: there’s no official measurement of how much weed jam concert-goers smoke at the event.)
-Following up on the status of district elections for Asheville City Council: Last month, Asheville voters overwhelmingly voted “no” in the referendum on the ballot asking whether voters supported a six-district system in which voters of those districts elect only their council representative, while the mayor is elected citywide. Seventy-five precent of voters said no. Councilwoman Julie Mayfield, delivering an update on City Council business to members of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority during their regular monthly meeting in November, said council would abide by that vote and take no further action, despite the fact that the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law earlier this year requiring Asheville City Council to set up the district election system. Mayfield said there’s been ongoing talks between the city and state officials.
-Asheville City Council on Tuesday met in closed session to talk about a lawsuit involving Parks Hospitality Group of Raleigh. The hotel group sued the city after Asheville City Council earlier this year voted unanimously to deny PHG a conditional use permit to build a 185-room Embassy Suites Hotel on Haywood Street. In an October ruling, Superior Court Judge William Coward ruled in favor of the hotel group, which said it planned to move forward with building the hotel. Asheville City Council can appeal that decision in the N.C. Court of Appeals.