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Olympic athlete training center considering Kannapolis for new site

KANNAPOLIS — The Kannapolis City Council on Monday approved incentives for Charlotte-based United States Performance Center that could lead to the location of athletic training and research facilities on the North Carolina Research Campus.

The City Council approved an initial $350,000 in tax incentives for the project. If a number of objectives are met, the council will commit to an additional $1.15 million to complete plans for construction, which could begin in 2021.

The U.S. Performance Center’s project would partner athletes and researchers to prepare athletes for Olympic and professional competition. The proposed facility would include using technology, athletic fields and research to provide testing and training for athletes; developmental programs for coaches and youths; sports medicine rehabilitation; and tournaments for youths and developing athletes.

Planners also considered a location in South Carolina before selecting Kannapolis.

“We are excited about bringing our project to Kannapolis. The partnership between high-performance athletes and researchers at the North Carolina Research Campus offers endless possibilities for the future of competitive sports,” said David Koerner, who with Ike Belk is a partner in U.S. Performance Center.

Plans call for the project to be on 40 to 70 acres at the Research Campus.

“We are already home to eight universities on the North Carolina Research Campus, whose mission is to research nutrition and exercise, and this project may be a perfect fit,” said Mayor Darrell Hinnant. “Our brand, Discover a Healthy Life, focuses on our city being a place where health, nutrition, exercise, science and education are our business. … Our plan is to know within 90 days if this will be the next major anchor in our downtown.”

Over that 90 days, there will be a “due diligence period” in which U.S. Performance Center will need to receive commitments from six or more national sports governing bodies; secure bank financing agreements; complete a conceptual site design; conduct an economic impact study and a physical asset analysis; complete a land purchase agreement with Castle & Cooke;and do a sponsorship asset analysis.

The city would provide its additional incentives only if those conditions are met.

“USPC’s focus on exercise science is a natural fit with our focus on targeted and general nutrition, exercise and post-harvest technologies,” said Mark Spitzer, president of Castle & Cooke North Carolina and lead mission support executive for the North Carolina Research Campus. “Together, we form a significantly expanded, unique and unprecedented platform for scientific inquiry that will create exciting new opportunities for scientific collaborations that advance our understanding of human health and performance, wellness, and disease and injury prevention.”

The N.C. Research Campus is on 350 acres that was formerly the site of Cannon Mills. It is home to researchers from universities that include Appalachian State, Duke, N.C. A&T State, N.C. Central, N.C. State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte and UNC-Greensboro as well as Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and several entrepreneur firms.

The colleges and entrepreneurs focus research and development on nutritional crops, healthy foods and precision dietary needs.

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