North Carolina Economic Development Guide

2015

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77 N o rt h C a r o l i N a E Co N o m i C D E v E lo p m E N t G u i D E signed that is still the best: Pinehurst No. 2. That's the verdict of the North Carolina Golf Panel, a group of about 135 sportswriters, pros, coaches and amateurs who rank the state's top 100 courses each year. The United States Golf Association seems to agree. After holding the men's U.S. Open Champion- ship there in 1999 and 2005, it picked Pinehurst Resort & Country Club to host the men's and women's 2014 Opens on its No. 2 course in consecutive weeks, a frst for professional golf. But North Carolina golf isn't just about long drives from the tee: Winston-Salem-based Putt-Putt LLC got its start in miniature golf in Fayetteville. Major professional sports North Carolina's professional sports are led by the Carolina Panthers, a National Football League franchise Forbes magazine valued at $1.3 billion in 2014. A $65 million upgrade to 73,778-seat Bank of America Stadium, the team's home feld, was recently com- pleted. The Queen City also is home of the Charlotte Hornets, owned by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alum and former National Basketball Association superstar Michael Jordan. It plays home games at Time Warner Cable Arena, as does the Charlotte Checkers, minor-league affliate of the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes, the 2006 Stanley Cup champion. Home ice for the Canes is PNC Arena in Raleigh. Minor-league baseball Baseball has been part of the landscape since the Civil War, when Union captives played it at Salisbury Prison. In addition to amateur, semipro and mill leagues, more than 70 towns and cities have hosted professional minor-league teams. There were 49 in 1949, but MiLB.com, the offcial site of the minor leagues, lists nine now: Asheville Tourists, Burlington Royals, Carolina Mudcats (Zebulon), Charlotte Knights, Durham Bulls, Greensboro Grasshoppers, Hickory Crawdads, Kannapolis Intimidators and Winston-Salem Dash. The most famous is the Bulls, featured in the 1988 hit movie Bull Dur . 2014 was a homecoming of sorts for the Charlotte Knights, the Chicago White Sox Triple-A affliate. After playing home games for 23 years just across the state line in Fort Mill, S.C., the Knights opened a new, $54 million, 10,200-seat stadium downtown. Attendance reached 600,000 in BB&T Ballpark's frst year. College sports There are 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs in North Carolina, but the ones along Tobacco Road — University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University in Durham, N.C. State University in Raleigh and Wake Forest University in Winston- Salem — are the best known, especially for basketball. Between them, the three schools in the Triangle — Carolina, Duke and State — have won the NCAA men's basketball tournament 11 times. Motorsports Concord-based North Carolina Motor- sports Association says the state's motor- sports industry has a $6 billion annual economic impact. The biggest venue is Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, which hosts three weekends of NASCAR racing action each year. Many top drivers and their teams are based in and near Concord, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame is in Charlotte. The state is home to many short tracks, including Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, which attracts more than 17,000 fans each summer Sat- urday night, the most of any weekly track in the country.

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