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Thread: Nascar Considers Staten Island Speedway

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    Default Nascar Considers Staten Island Speedway

    May 28, 2004

    Staten Island, Start Your Engines: Nascar May Be On Its Way

    By CHARLES V. BAGLI and ERIC DASH

    For years, Nascar has sought to penetrate the New York metropolitan area, trying to build speedways in places like the Catskills and the New Jersey Meadowlands. Now, it has set its sights on New York City itself and is negotiating to transform a Staten Island industrial park into a major speedway on 440 acres of waterfront land near the Goethals Bridge.

    Nascar speedways are phenomenally popular in the South and the Midwest, and the circuit has gradually moved to the Northeast in recent years. But establishing a beachhead right in New York City, where pedestrians and mass transit rule, would be a major coup as Nascar seeks to broaden its appeal.

    Racing promoters have held preliminary discussions with economic development officials in the Bloomberg administration in recent weeks about building a 2.5-mile oval track at the vacant GATX industrial park, a onetime oil tank farm south of the Goethals, near several major highways.

    David Talley, a spokesman for the International Speedway Corporation, Nascar's sister organization, confirmed that Staten Island was under consideration.

    "Ever since we kind of looked away from the Meadowlands, we've been looking at other places," Mr. Talley said yesterday. "Staten Island is one we're looking at. We're looking at a couple of sites in New Jersey as well. We are nowhere close to breaking ground and building a facility."

    International Speedway, the largest motorsports operator in the country, owns 13 racetracks, including Daytona International Speedway in Florida, Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama and Watkins Glen International in upstate New York.

    The prospect of a Nascar track in Staten Island seemed to baffle some people in the borough who were questioned about the idea.

    "Shocking. I wouldn't think they'd build a racetrack on Staten Island," said Babatunde Adedapo, 19, a Staten Island resident who is now a student in Massachusetts. "We're not really known for racing. New York City is not known for racing. Staten Island doesn't bring in any tourists. We have a baseball park, and no one goes there."

    The area where the track would go is the site of a tank farm that GATX closed four years ago and put up for sale while simultaneously marketing it as an industrial park. William Hettler, a New Jersey real estate broker at Resource Realty who is handling the property, did not return calls requesting comment.

    One executive who had been briefed on International Speedway's plans said that Staten Island was high on the list. "I do know it's a pretty serious effort," the executive said. "I think there's a possibility something could happen."

    But even a vacant industrial site, which sits only a few feet above sea level, will pose challenges for Nascar. The property, which embraces about 100 acres of marsh, almost certainly requires some sort of environmental cleanup given its long history as a terminal for oil and other bulk liquids. Environmentalists have also sought to protect the wetlands from development.

    New Jersey officials had spent a lot of time in the last couple of years trying to accommodate Nascar on a relatively tiny 104 acres at the Meadowlands sports complex, already home to a stadium, an arena, a horse racing track and lots of parking lots. At one point four years ago, the racing promoters were looking for a 750-acre site that could accommodate up to 300,000 fans.

    "You've got to have a lot of land to park the Winnebagos," said George R. Zoffinger, president of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. "We tried to see whether it would work in the Meadowlands. But the huge amount of traffic on the three weekends a year they operate would be paralyzing to the northern part of the state. Local political leaders opposed it."

    Mr. Zoffinger said he had heard that Nascar was now looking on Staten Island.

    "I daresay they'll probably run into the same issues over there," he said. "About the only place it would work in New Jersey is southern New Jersey where there's less traffic congestion and you could build some infrastructure to get people in and out. But they wanted to be within eyesight of New York."

    Members of the City Council from Staten Island said that interest in building a Nascar track in the area north of the Fresh Kills landfill had risen in the last two months, as the talks had gotten more serious.

    "It's an intriguing idea that we would like to explore further," said Councilman Andrew Lanza, adding that he is planning to meet with International Speedway representatives in July. "At first you are concerned about the additional traffic and noise, but then you take a closer look at it, and you are only talking about a couple of events a year and you have a great facility that can be put to other uses."

    The site is only a couple of miles east of the New Jersey Turnpike. A typical Nascar track can hold as many as 150,000 spectators, and at many sites across the country, the lines of cars during race days sometimes stretch for miles. That notion worries Councilman James S. Oddo, whose district includes the prospective site.

    "We are an island that is clogged already. We have four bridges, and three are overutilized," he said, adding that the racetrack developers "better come forward with an attractive package or they will get booed out of town."

    According to officials with knowledge of the proposal, the site's location along the West Shore of Staten Island mitigates some of those traffic concerns because it would allow visitors from New Jersey to enter the site from the West Shore Expressway without using Staten Island's streets.

    International Speedway has asked city and state officials for cash grants and tax breaks for the project. One government official said they were listening, but "these guys are smoking rope. They're looking for subsidies for what can hardly be the highest and best use of the land."

    Viv Bernstein contributed reporting for this article.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    Not a big fan of the Nascar culture, but somehow it seems fitting for it to be in Staten Island. If NJ built this in the Meadowlands, the state would be smeared by NYers forever (not like they get off lightly now).

  3. #3

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    Not a big fan of Nascar either, but this would help Staten Islands Tourism....also help the tarffic nightmares. LOL

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    Yeah, but NASCAR?

  5. #5

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    well, New York City has everything else...why not a Nascar stadium....your right. Nascar dosnt belong in New York. Changed my mind. I hpe it dosnt come. LOL

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    This is good news! The SuperBowl is comming, Movie Studios are comming, The Olympics might come and now Nascar as well!!

    What is going on all the sudden am I missing something or NYC is becomming not only internationally in business but the capital of the entertainment world?

    Maybe I suren't stressed that far....

  7. #7

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    Fck NASCAR, put an F1 circuit there. Thats atleast a sport with some class.

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    May 29, 2004

    Nascar's Possible Track Site Is Far, Far From Home

    By MICHAEL BRICK

    Rounding the last turn on the Staten Island Expressway, the southwestern stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway with a provincial name and an $8 admission fee, cars zoom past a slope of overgrown, mixed and unpedigreed vegetation that could be mistaken for kudzu.

    The next exit, the last before this road crosses the Arthur Kill into New Jersey and requires another name, is Western Avenue.

    New York City ends here, in a belt of muck and tar. It is in this place, in a vacant industrial park, that promoters of Nascar racing have considered building a speedway. Nascar has looked longingly at the New York area for years, and promoters said on Thursday that they had held discussions with the Bloomberg administration about building a track on Staten Island.

    Street names, plant appearances, prices and roadway curves do not amount to much, but offer symbolic encouragement for the backers of a sport that cannot help but conjure images of the South and Midwest.

    But to thrive in New York, Nascar racing - like monster truck rallies and prison rodeos - would have to overcome not only space constraints but also regional tastes.

    There is hope. People dance, after all, to a lamentable disco recording of "Cotton-Eyed Joe" at Yankee Stadium. And yesterday, as Nascar's intentions were disclosed, Staten Island residents under the overpass signaled some desire to welcome racecar drivers and their fans.

    There is already a track of sorts here, a loop that the truckers make under the low highway overpass, kicking up gravel and taking both lanes. Off the road, a path of red muddy clay cuts between man-tall brushes, past a discarded refrigerator, a box for sour candies, bottles of beer said to be lite and packets of ketchup said to be fancy.

    The Goethals Bridge rises overhead, disappearing into an industrial park of wires, smokestacks and derricks. Signs abound, advising of prohibitions against standing, dumping, parking, trespassing, littering, entering, entering without a safety vest and so on. The roar of the planes leaving Newark Liberty International Airport is dulled by earthbound rattles, hisses, hums and bangs.

    "The noise isn't going to bother us," said Jonathan Roper, 18, a painter, speaking of a racetrack.

    He walked through a lot full of cars with bumper stickers that said their owners were proud to be Americans, and union iron-working ones at that. At the end of the lot, on the other side of the overpass, Scott Leschack, 34, was selling food and drink from a van stocked with coolers, a portable radio and The Daily News.

    Mr. Leschack found this spot a few months ago, and he said he took it only after assurances that the previous vendor did not want to return.

    "It's not a hard and fast rule," Mr. Leschack said. "It's more ethics."

    He works at the restaurant at the end of New York City from about 7 a.m. until midafternoon, whenever the truckers and construction workers stop buying cheesesteaks, hot dogs and chocolate sodas. Yesterday, the day that television cameras made Mr. Leschack briefly famous for staking out the spot where the front gate might be on a speedway, he wore a patriotic T-shirt, a gold hoop earring and sandals.

    "Myself, I'm not into Nascar," Mr. Leschack said. Still, "I can't imagine the business I could do. Just the construction would keep me in business."

    Down the street in the Goethals Garden Homes -a trailer park where figurines decorate small yards, people take The Staten Island Advance and a dog named Cowboy is missing - Lucy Skiutto was less welcoming.

    "That brings a lot of kids hanging around, driving fast and God forbid," Ms. Skiutto said. "We have enough traffic as it is."

    Nate Floyd disagrees. He is the proprietor of N.Q.N. Tires, and his opinion of traffic is that it wears down tires, necessitating their replacement.

    "We want the Nascar," Mr. Floyd said. "I do racecar tires, too."

    Mr. Floyd came to the end of New York City from Charleston, S.C., and his embrace of Nascar should not be mistaken for a love of the South in general or Charleston in particular.

    "You can have it," he said.


    Alliance Is Discussed for Auto Race Track

    By VIV BERNSTEIN

    CONCORD, N.C., May 28 - The president of one of the country's largest Nascar racetrack owners said on Friday that his company had held preliminary discussions with a competitor about teaming up to build a track in the New York area.

    The president, H. A. Wheeler of Speedway Motorsports Inc., said a joint effort with International Speedway Corporation would help overcome the high cost of building a track. Even then, Mr. Wheeler said, the project would need significant assistance from local and state government.

    He could not estimate the cost of a track in the New York area, saying it would depend on location.

    But, Mr. Wheeler said, "I would say, in general, to build a track in that area would probably, I don't know if it would double the cost, but it would be at least 50 percent" more than a track built, for example, in Texas.

    Speedway Motorsports spent $250 million on Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, which began Nascar racing in 1997.

    "I think whoever builds a track in New York or New Jersey is going to have to have tremendous assistance from the municipality and on a state level to do it or it'll never be done," Mr. Wheeler said while at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., near Charlotte.

    Racing promoters have sought to penetrate the New York metropolitan region for years, and have held discussions with the Bloomberg administration in recent weeks about a track at a vacant industrial park on Staten Island.

    It would be an unusual alliance between Speedway Motorsports, which owns six racetracks, and International Speedway, Nascar's sister corporation. The two companies had feuded for years, and a stockholder in Speedway Motorsports sued International Speedway in 2002 to try to get a second Nascar race date in Texas.

    That lawsuit ended earlier this month when International Speedway sold North Carolina Speedway to the other company and the race there was moved to Texas.

    Mr. Wheeler said a track in New York would probably be a mile to a mile and a half with seating for 90,000 to 100,000. Many Nascar tracks are about a mile and a half. The Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., one of the tracks closest to New York, is two and a half miles.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  10. #10

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    SI is a good location for Nascar fans in Central/South Jersey. Just a quick hop over the Outerbridge for the South Edison/Woodbridge/Sayreville/Old Bridge types.

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    July 18, 2004

    Speedway Company Faces Major Obstacles in Plan to Bring Nascar to S.I.

    By CHARLES V. BAGLI and ERIC DASH

    Four million cubic yards of silt from the bottom of New York Harbor would be needed to raise the height of the property so that it would not be underwater during severe rainstorms.

    The site, once home to an oil tank farm, would have to be certified as environmentally clean.

    The muskrats, herons and ibises and other not-so-endangered species in 100 acres of marshland would have to be protected. And a way would have to be found to move an estimated 80,000 fans to and from the site, which is surrounded by crowded highways, three weekends a year.

    Those are the major hurdles facing the developers who hope to turn a 600-acre parcel near the Goethals Bridge on Staten Island into the ideal site for a Nascar speedway with a ¾-mile oval track, an 80,000-seat grandstand and a 500,000-square-foot shopping mall.

    International Speedway Corporation, the nation's largest motor-sports operator, is working on the project with Related Companies, a major New York real estate developer. International Speedway has hired a small army of real estate lawyers, engineers and lobbyists, and, according to a local official, it recently offered $100 million for the property. The proposed project, which must go through the city's land use review process, has drawn mixed reviews from residents and landed in the hot soup of Staten Island politics.

    But whatever the roadblocks, promoters have long sought to bring Nascar racing, hugely popular in the South and Midwest, to the potentially lucrative New York City area.

    "I remain optimistic, as do all of us at the company, that we will ultimately have Nascar Nextel Cup racing in or around New York City," said John Graham, vice president for business affairs at International Speedway. "We continue to be very, very interested in Staten Island. But it continues to be very much under study."

    State and city officials have been studiously neutral, although at least one official, who requested anonymity, said he expected the project to die of its own weight.

    The Staten Island borough president, James P. Molinaro, has taken a wait-and-see approach to the project. He said that the president of International Speedway, Lesa France Kennedy, told him recently that the company had offered $100 million for the now vacant waterfront tank farm owned by GATX, about 450 acres, and an adjoining parcel.

    Mr. Graham, GATX and Related's president, Jeffrey Blau, would not confirm the dollar figure. Mr. Blau did say: "We have reached an agreement on a deal to purchase the land, although no contract has been signed. We'll try to acquire as much land as possible surrounding this property."

    The proposed Staten Island track would be smaller than the famous 2.5-mile racetrack at Daytona Beach, Fla., but Mr. Graham said it would be comparable to the company's Richmond International Raceway in Virginia. As part of the joint venture, Related would build a shopping mall similar to its two-year-old Gateway Center in East New York, Brooklyn, which includes Target, Home Depot, BJ's Wholesale Club, Circuit City and Red Lobster.

    Mr. Molinaro said that many people on Staten Island like the raceway proposal, although most elected officials say they have not made a formal decision whether to support it. Guy V. Molinari, the former borough president turned lobbyist, has been promoting the project on behalf of International Speedway and trading pot shots with Assemblyman Robert Straniere, who likens the project to a "scheme park" and has raised concerns about the track's impact on traffic, the local economy and the environment.

    (Mr. Straniere is being challenged in the Republican primary in September by Mario Bruno, a candidate backed by Mr. Molinari, and by Vincent Ignizio.)

    "It seems very much like a harebrain scheme, or what my mother would call a schnapps idea, to me," said Councilman Michael McMahon, whose district encompasses part of the site. "On the other hand, they have an impressive set of credentials."

    There are significant concerns about the race-day traffic on the Goethals Bridge and Staten Island's already crowded roads. The site of the 80,000-seat stadium would have parking space for just 10,000 cars, so many Nascar fans, often from areas where RVs are more common than mass transit, would be forced to rely on public transportation.

    International Speedway officials have proposed elaborate fast-ferry and park-and ride schemes, even suggesting the construction of a small light-rail system on an existing right-of-way along Staten Island's north shore to shuttle in visitors from the surrounding areas.

    A recent study of the potential economic benefits of a similar 75,000-seat speedway in the Seattle area estimated that the new track there would generate up to $122 million in economic activity. But the impact would probably be somewhat smaller in New York, where more racing fans are likely to be day-trippers, said Tim Hogan, a retired economics professor at Arizona State University, who conducted a similar impact study for the Phoenix International raceway.

    The Staten Island site itself, once home to 82 oil storage tanks, presents a number of challenges. In 1999, GATX, a transportation equipment leasing company, closed the tank farm and put the land up for sale. It has nearly completed cleaning the site of petroleum contamination, according to state officials.

    But much of the land sits at or below sea level. To combat potential flooding problems, the developers have talked to state environmental officials and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey about dumping up to four million cubic yards of silt from the harbor dredging project onto the property to raise the height of the land anywhere from three to six feet.

    There are also environmental issues, with conservationists saying that more than one-third of the proposed site is covered by sensitive wetlands. Even if the racing developers could carve a track away from those protected marshes, it will still sit on one of 15 sites in the metropolitan area designated as a significant coastal fish and wildlife habitat.

    E. J. McAdams, executive director of the New York City Audubon Society, said, "It's a big loss of habitat and potential habitat that serves as a foraging ground and nesting area for many wading birds, like the heron, egret and ibis."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    August 8, 2004

    A Real New York Speedway

    Looking for a way to expand around the country, Nascar now has its eye on Staten Island. The Nascar team is studying a site near the Goethals Bridge which once housed an oil-tank farm but is now abandoned territory. There are environmental issues, like protection of nearby wetlands and assurances that the site has been properly cleaned up. But the big problem is the traffic - not on the track but on the overloaded roads around it. Staten Island, overdeveloped but underserved by decent transportation alternatives, has some of the worst traffic problems in the metropolitan area. Bringing in another 80,000 people could only make that mess worse.

    If the traffic issue could be resolved - and that seems an almost insuperable "if" - the idea sounds intriguing. Nascar officials estimate that they would use a track in New York City on two to four weekends a year, not counting trials or some other smaller events. That leaves a lot of time for footraces for cancer or student athletics or other community uses. And the idea of turning New York City residents into Nascar moms and dads has some appeal for those of us tired of hearing that New Yorkers don't understand the ways of heartland America.

    Negotiations for such an addition to New York's sports fare are still at the early stages. As is almost always the case, that means the potential benefits of the plan have been made clear while the potential cost to the taxpayers is still murky. All the possible pluses will vanish if the deal comes with a big bill attached.

    In another pattern we've seen many times before, advocates tend to speak grandly about the possibilities of using mass transportation to resolve the traffic miseries a big sports facility would create. Any plan that would increase the bus or ferry options available to Staten Island in general would be worth discussion, although on first glance it's very hard to imagine tens of thousands of fans taking public transit to car races. Nevertheless, if Nascar and Staten Islanders could protect nearby wetlands and find a magical way to unsnarl the traffic, a racetrack could be just the ticket.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    Default The race for NASCAR

    This is why you build something like this...

    The race for NASCAR
    Sport looks to expand in Northwest
    http://www.heraldnet.com/Stories/04/4/4/18398914.cfm

    Herald Writers

    They looked across the river in Kansas City, Kan., to their better half in Missouri, and saw skyscrapers and stadiums. But on the Sunflower State side, there was nothing that had put them on the map.

    In Joliet, Ill., an hour south of Chicago, they were already nationally known, but not for the right reasons. Their biggest claim to fame was the prison, made memorable by the movie "The Blues Brothers."

    Four years has changed much.

    Now, both areas are flush with newfound fame -- and money -- among the gasoline fumes and checkered flags. Today, the two towns are home to NASCAR's newest racetracks, the Kansas Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway.

    Snohomish County officials hope this will be the next area to be transformed by motor sports and its economic exhaust.

    International Speedway Corp., the company that owns 12 of the nation's major motor-sports facilities -- including the Kansas and Illinois speedways -- is looking to expand into the Pacific Northwest.

    The company is eyeing locations in Washington and Oregon, and local leaders have been meeting regularly with International Speedway representatives in the hope they will pick Snohomish County for the track.

    Undisclosed locations near Marysville and Monroe are being promoted, but those areas face stiff competition from sites in Kitsap and Thurston counties.

    The stakes are sizable. Speedways hosting NASCAR races see Super Bowl-sized jackpots.

    For Marysville, that could mean a chance to step out of the economic shadow cast by the Tulalip Tribes' Quil Ceda Village, the burgeoning shopping mall and casino just across I-5 that will one day include a hotel and amusement park.

    "We're looking for economic development. That's no secret to anyone," said Mary Swenson, Marysville's chief administrative officer. "Our citizens are screaming for services that we can't afford."

    A motor-sports facility with NASCAR events would pump millions into the regional economy.

    "There's no doubt there will be economic benefits," Swenson said.

    The racing facility would span hundreds of acres and would jump-start new businesses to serve racing fans. NASCAR events typically draw crowds of 80,000 or more.

    "There's a lot of area that's going to develop. To have it develop under one developer really brings some unique opportunities," she added.

    The reason for building a track in the Northwest is simple, said David Talley, an International Speedway spokesman.

    "We feel the Pacific Northwest is an untapped market as far as NASCAR goes," he said.

    NASCAR has 75 million fans nationwide, and the closest company-owned track is the California Speedway near Los Angeles. The closest track that hosts NASCAR's premium Nextel Cup races is in Sonoma, Calif.

    International Speedway executives want to start racing in the Northwest by 2008. Talley said the company has to consider many things, including available acreage and infrastructure.

    "If you are to build a facility with 85,000 people, you're going to need the roads to handle that many people," he said.

    Other amenities are also important. A typical NASCAR fan will drive 300 miles to see a race, coming in on a Thursday and staying until the main event on Sunday. Many visitors also want entertainment near the track, such as malls, an amusement park or a big-city experience.


    A deadline for selecting the Pacific Northwest track site hasn't been set.

    "We haven't gone in and said, 'We want to get a deal done by this date,' " Talley said.

    "It's got to be the right fit," he added. "We're not going to build a $500 million facilityif it doesn't make sense."

    That also means the company will be looking for financial enticements from city, county and state governments.

    "We'd love to get some help at all levels," Talley said.

    Government officials know they'll have to offer incentives to make Washington the front-runner, as was done to land the Boeing Co.'s 7E7 program.

    "They're not going to locate it here unless the state does something for them," Lt. Gov. Brad Owen said.

    That "something" would be a financial aid package to ease the cost of constructing the track and grandstands, improving roads and extending utilities.

    The pivotal piece is likely to be tax-increment financing, which would funnel sales or property taxes generated at the site back into the project to pay the bills. But there's a hitch: State law doesn't allow such financing, and the state constitution bans using property taxes for that purpose.

    Past attempts to change the law -- but not the constitution -- have failed.

    Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Mason County, plans to try again in January. "That will be the guts of the bill," he said.

    While it is a form of public financing, Sheldon said, it does not siphon existing taxes and would be different than the means used to help build the Seahawks and Mariners stadiums in Seattle.

    Further, depending on what site is chosen, key routes may need improving sooner than state legislators had planned. Such a reshuffling of priorities won't come without debate, because it could delay work in other regions.

    For local lawmakers, the pressure will be conducting a speedy review and approval of any proposal.

    "We have to deliver when they pick a site," Sheldon said. "We can't sit around two years wringing our hands."

    Assuring International Speedway leaders that won't happen underscores the competition among counties vying to be the home of a track. At least 10 sites are under consideration -- five in Snohomish County, one in Kitsap County and four in Thurston County.

    Leaders insist it's a friendly battle.

    "It's not, 'Please put it in Snohomish County, Kitsap County or Thurston County,'" said Owens, who will hold public hearings on the track proposal once a site has been chosen. "It's, 'Please let us help you put it in Washington state.'"

    Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon said: "I will support wherever NASCAR decides to go. I believe it's good for Washington state. It is a competitive process, and I plan on being damn competitive."

    Deborah Knutson, president of the Snohomish County Economic Development Council, said while the county is competing with others, she hasn't focused on what the rivals might offer. Instead, she said Snohomish County needs to work hard on its own proposal, an approach used in luring the 7E7 to Everett.

    "The focus is on how can we put forth the best business package," she said.

    Jeff Boerger, president of the Kansas Speedway, understands what local officials are facing in the struggle to land an International Speedway facility. He was on the economic development team that brought the company to Kansas.

    "The Kansas taxpayer has about $50 million invested in this project," Boerger said.

    Bonds were sold to pay for the project and are being paid off by sales and property tax revenues generated by the speedway.

    It's been a safe bet, however. The speedway has spurred an economic boom from the start.

    "We saw an economic impact immediately during the construction phase," Boerger said, which meant 2,000 new jobs and a construction payroll of $50 million.

    "We have sold out each of our races since day one," he added. "The impact has been tremendous."

    It's estimated that 70 percent of the speedway's race fans come from outside the Kansas City area. And an economic study was done to see how restaurants, hotels and other businesses were benefiting from the track.

    "Just after our first year, we generated roughly $150 million into the Kansas economy," he said.

    The $250 million speedway has been in business for four years. It seats more than 80,000 spectators and can be expanded to 150,000.

    On land near the track, roughly $500 million in retail development is going in. A major movie theater and an outdoor mall spanning a million square feet are under construction.

    Although there are just two major NASCAR weekends held each year at the track, it generated revenue on 210 days last year.


    The impacts have gone beyond the economy in Joliet, said Matthew Alexander, general manager of Chicagoland Speedway, which he said has been a boost to the blue-collar region's morale and image.

    The town was trying to move away from its industrial past, and local leaders wanted to make the area an entertainment destination.

    The $130 million raceway, a 75,000-seat facility on 930 acres, has grown in popularity since it opened in 2001. "We've sold out every year," Alexander said.

    How would a major speedway fare in Snohomish County?

    While estimating how much money a NASCAR track would pump into the county economy is impossible, those who have studied the economics of sports agree the amount would be huge.

    The Checkered Flag Task Force, which includes officials from the state and from the Puget Sound counties under consideration by International Speedway, has commissioned a study of the impact. It's due out by midmonth.

    Talley estimated the construction phase alone would have an economic impact of approximately $230 million. Once the facility is operating, he anticipates $220 million annually in business revenue. While only a few dozen year-round jobs are likely to be created, thousands of vendors, small business people and companies would benefit from the seasonal crowds.

    "It will be lucrative for almost anyone, whether it's in Washington or Oregon," said Paul Swangard, managing director of the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, which studies the business of sports.

    As Talley said, it's not much different than the economic impact of annually hosting the Super Bowl. One study found that International Speedway-owned Phoenix International Raceway injected more than $270 million into the state's economy in 1999, compared with about $300 million generated when Phoenix hosted the Super Bowl in 1996.

    To compare, look at the economic ripples created by the Seattle Mariners. When Seattle economist Dick Conway studied the major league baseball team's contribution to the state economy in 1994, he found the team brought nearly $142 million in business revenue and created 2,249 jobs.

    But only about a third of the revenue created by the Mariners is considered "new money" -- or money that comes from out of the area. That is, if the Mariners left Seattle, most of the money would still circulate in Washington's economy but would go toward other forms of entertainment.

    "The economic impact of professional sports teams often is money that would have been spent in the region anyhow," Swangard said.

    Even though the opening of Safeco Field and growing interest in the Mariners in Japan has brought more tourists to Seattle, Conway said much of the team's revenue still comes from a limited area.

    "The crowd is largely, I think even today, from the central Puget Sound region," he said. "NASCAR tends to draw from a larger pool."

    Because those major racing events attract a large percentage of out-of-town and out-of-state fans, they bring in more new money than the average sports team.

    Knutson added that building a retail center around the track would also boost the economy. Unlike the track itself, which might host relatively few events a year, the retail complex would be a constant attraction.

    "You can then look at that retail sales tax coming in year-round," she said.

    Even though Swangard is skeptical of some of the economic figures being cited, he said the opportunity is too tempting for any area to pass up.

    "It would still be worth going after," he said. "For what will amount to a low-impact development that will not be used more than a few times a year, the economic impact is significant."


    In Snohomish County, the site near Marysville is shaping up as the local favorite because of its proximity to I-5. Marysville has prepared a proposal for International Speedway that even suggests a name for the track -- Great Northwest Speedway.

    Since no deadline has been set, the talking will continue.

    "There are a lot of different pieces that have to fall into place before we take the next step," Talley said. "I think the dialogue will continue with all the sites. "Where we land has to make sense for us."

    Reporter Brian Kelly: 425-339-3422 or kelly@heraldnet.com.

  14. #14

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    NASCAR Track Wouldn't Increase S.I. Traffic, Proponents Say

    DECEMBER 01ST, 2004




    Proponents of a plan to build a NASCAR racetrack on Staten Island say the proposed facility would have a minimal effect on traffic in the area. Amanda Farinacci filed this progress report on the project.

    A widened toll plaza at the Goethals Bridge. Two new ramps on the West Shore expressway. Road improvements and a fast ferry to Staten Island's south shore. That's what Staten Islanders can expect if a NASCAR track comes to Bloomfield.

    What they shouldn't expect, according to the International Speedway Corporation, is lots of unmanageable traffic.

    "There are only 8,400 cars that are going to be allowed to park on the facility during a race weekend, which is only three times a year," says NASCAR consultant John D'Amato. "And that's 8,400 cars on a weekend, which is not a peak traffic time. It's workable."

    Workable, supporters say, because of a comprehensive plan for managing traffic and transportation to and from the proposed arena. Using a traffic plan developed specifically for the heavily-congested borough, spectators will have to choose their transportation when they purchase tickets - they can drive if they get one of 8,400 parking spots, they can take a chartered bus from Manhattan or New Jersey, or they can hop on a fast ferry, which the speedway corporation would build.

    "Every fan knows how they're getting to the race on the day of the race, because we control the way you get there," explains D'Amato. "You cannot buy the ticket unless you buy your mode of transportation to get there. It's a package."

    The International Speedway Corporation plans to purchase the 675-acre space by the end of the month. Besides the 80,000-seat NASCAR facility, its plans include a 50-acre retail center and the preservation of 245 acres of wetlands. The ISC says they'll offer the arena to the borough for charity events and holiday festivals when it's not being used for racing.

    Supporters say their plan makes the best use of some of the most valuable industrial space in the entire city – and they urge opponents to look at the alternatives if the NASCAR plan doesn't go through.

    "There are so many different options for this property to be developed that may very well have a more negative impact on the community 365 days of the year," D'Amato says.

    Still, not everyone is sold on the plan.

    "I don't see how this benefits the Staten Island community to the degree that I would take the risk of the traffic problem," says city councilman James Oddo.

    Though they're skeptical, local leaders say they're willing to hear more details – and the ISC says it will work with the community to refine the proposal.

  15. #15
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    The plan makes sense, especially the ferries, etc. But, why do they need so much land? 245 left alone, 50 for retail, so almost 400 for a track?

    Also, are there any tracks that are both NASCAR and Formula 1?

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