Track expansion

Kentucky House passes bill
to aid Speedway expansion

New owners wants to
double seating capacity, add roads

Staff Report

Kentucky Speedway Logo

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 2009) – Gov. Steve Beshear on Feb. 17 voiced his support for an amendment to the Kentucky Tourism Development Act to add a new eligible category of so-called “legacy expansion” projects.

Jerry Carroll

Photo provided

Track consultant and former co-owner
Jerry Carroll addresses the media Feb. 17
with (from left) Kentucky Gov. Steve
Beshear and Speedway Motorsports Inc.
CEO Bruton Smith, whose company
recently bought the track.

At a Capitol news conference, Beshear and bill sponsor House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins were joined by representatives of Speedway Motorsports Inc. to discuss the positive impact House Bill 521 would have on the future of motorsports in Kentucky.
Bruton Smith, chairman and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., owner of Kentucky Speedway, and Jerry Carroll, consultant to Speedway Motorsports Inc. said that passage of this legislation would put Kentucky in position to host the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, that sanctioning body’s top racing series.
The bill was approved in early March by the state House. It includes a plan that would allow SMI to recoup 25 percent of the expansion costs over a 20-year period through sales tax revenue.
SMI purchased Kentucky Speedway for $78 million in a deal that closed in December. The track operators had previously filed a lawsuit in which they claimed that NASCAR, a privately held company that sanctions races and is owned by the France family, conspired with International Speedway Corp., a publicly traded company that owns race tracks and whose majority of stock is owned by the France family, to keep tracks such as Kentucky Speedway from getting Cup races. SMI later was named as a co-conspirator in the lawsuit. The suit is currently in U.S. Appeals Court, and NASCAR officials have said that they would not consider a realignment request to move a Cup date to Kentucky until that suit is concluded.
“The impact of a NASCAR Sprint Series Cup race for Kentucky is undeniable,” Beshear said. “NASCAR is the No. 1 spectator sport in the United States and is broadcast in more than 150 countries and 30 languages. I’m excited about the potential of Kentucky joining these ranks.”

Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear

Photo provided

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear tries out
the seat of a race car as Bruton Smith
looks on during a media event Feb. 17 in Frankfort, Ky., to announce the House bill.

Under the proposed legislation, legacy expansion projects must conduct events that are in the top league, series or sanctioned level of their type of event, provide permanent seating for 65,000 spectators and be broadcast nationally. The venue must have previously been approved for incentives and the expansion project must exceed $30 million and present one or more “premier events” not previously held in Kentucky.
The legacy projects amendment also “extends the amount of time a business is allowed to recover 25 percent of its investment from 10 years to 20.”
“I am hopeful that this legislation will receive favorable consideration in light of the significant impact landing a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Kentucky Speedway would have on our economy,” Adkins said. “The governor and his staff are to be commended for pursuing this exciting opportunity for Kentucky.”
The legislation, which Rep. Adkins plans to file next Monday, would also expand the availability of time over which the tax credits can be taken for the original investments made and the significant expansion at the Kentucky Speedway.
Smith wants the state tax incentives to fund about $19 million of a $75 million expansion of the track by nearly doubling the seating capacity to 120,000 and tripling the number of restrooms. He would also build more roads into and out of the facility and add parking areas.

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