The company that manages BB&T Ballpark is appealing the value the Forsyth County tax assessor has placed on the stadium.

The stadium, which cost $48.7 million to build including land acquisition, is valued for taxes at roughly $36.4 million.

That value means the company that manages the stadium, Sports Menagerie LLC, owes about $418,600 in taxes to the city of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Those taxes have not yet been paid; they are not considered past due until after Jan. 6, said William "Pete" Rodda, Forsyth County's tax assessor.

The stadium is something of a tax anomaly, Rodda said, because it is owned by the city and leased to the company. Municipally owned properties are, by law, exempt from property taxes.

But Sports Menagerie can be taxed on the value of its lease, Rodda said.

Raleigh lawyer Bart McLean appealed the tax value on behalf of Sports Menagerie. McLean did not return calls seeking comment.

Rodda said McLean has not indicated that Sports Menagerie believes the corporation should be exempt from paying taxes. Rodda said he believes the company will argue that the assessed value of $36.4 million is too high.

Rodda said he considered construction costs, the value of other stadiums and a number of other things when he assessed the stadium's taxable value. He said no appraisal has been done on the ballpark.

"You don't have a lot of baseball stadiums in the country — it's a fairly finite number," Rodda said. "Some of them are owned by the teams and some of them are owned by the local government. There's really no clear market."

Rodda said he plans to meet with McLean on Tuesday to discuss the tax assessment. He said the county's Board of Equalization and Review, which considers appeals to taxable value, would likely consider Sports Menagerie's appeal in January.

Sports Menagerie LLC is one of several companies owned by Billy Prim, the Winston-Salem businessman who orchestrated the construction of the new ballpark. Prim also is a primary owner of the Winston-Salem Dash, the Class-A minor league baseball team that plays in the stadium.

The city took ownership of the stadium after Prim approached Mayor Allen Joines and the Winston-Salem City Council, asking for financial help from the city to finish construction.

Work on the ballpark stopped in the fall of 2008 when Prim's business relationship with his then-partner Andrew "Flip" Filipowski, deteriorated. The partnership dissolved at the same time the economy crashed. Prim told the council at the time that he was unable to get a construction loan from a bank.

The City Council voted unanimously in the summer of 2009 to contribute an additional $15.7 million to the cost of the stadium. The city had already contributed about $12 million. In exchange for the additional money, the city took ownership of the ballpark and agreed to lease it back to two of Prim's companies. Sports Menagerie LLC is one; Brookstown Development Partners LLC is the other.

Brookstown Development Partners and the Dash have paid the city almost $1.2 million in lease and ticket-surcharge payments this year. The stadium companies have also provided financial information about the stadium's operations to the city; the city has not released that information to the public.


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