Sep 25, 2006
A site near Mobile, Alabama, could become the next NASCAR speedway if the plans announced by Dale Earnhardt Jr, his sister Kelley Earnhardt Elledge and brother Kerry Earnhardt come to fruition. But at the same time, a track project proposed for the Northwest in Kitsap County, Washington, is running into trouble with area residents. The question is: do you want a race track in your backyard?
Apparently residents of Mobile and neighboring Baldwin County, Alabama, which lies east of Mobile Bay, are concentrating on the expected economic advantages of having a racing facility nearby. The proposed 2,300-acre Alabama project is expected to include a 75,000-person capacity oval track speedway, dirt track, drag strip and road course. The plan also figures in "entertainment venues" in an effort to keep the motorsports park humming with activity at all times. One interesting wrinkle is the proposal for the building of a freshwater lake that could host fishing tournaments. So if the excitement of racing is not enough for you, you could supplement your viewing by watching anglers fish. The project, reportedly to be called Alabama Motorsports Park: A Dale Earnhardt Jr. Speedway, is expected to be completed in 2009.
The expected completion date for the proposed Port Orchard, Washington, motorsports facility is far less certain. AP has reported a survey of area residents by Elway Research Inc. indicates that the populace of the area was deeply divided on the issue. About 45 percent favor the project but another 45 percent are against the plan.
The proposed speedway is planned for NASCAR races and is the brainchild of the International Speedway Corporation, which is, of course, intimately tied to the NASCAR hierarchy. The proposal for the 950-acre facility calls for International Speedway Corporation to pay $166 million of the total cost, while another $166 million would be paid through local sales taxes. The balance of the cost ($13 million) would come from taxes on ticket sales.
Most of the resistance seems to stem from fears that the track will cause a tax rate hike in the area. They also fear the impact on traffic and other public services, like police and fire protection.
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