The Herald Bulletin

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Sports

April 16, 2013

Ken de la Bastide: Lawmakers may help local tracks

Indiana lawmakers considering a $100 million loan to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for improvements are also considering a funding mechanism to assist other businesses in the motor sports industry.

IMS is requesting the state create a sports district which will allow the speedway to capture increased sales and income tax revenues. The proposal is for up to $5 million per year over the next 20 years with the track eventually repaying the funds.

Track officials are considering installing lighting around the 2.5 mile oval and to upgrade facilities to make them more accessible to people with disabilities. Lighting would allow the NASCAR race to be moved to a night race and for an extended sports car race at IMS.

The concept is not a new one in Indiana. The Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board has been allowed to capture state taxes for Lucas Oil Stadium, Banker’s Life Fieldhouse and the convention center. The difference is those funds don’t have to be repaid.

Rep. Eric Turner, R-32nd District, commented in Tipton last Saturday that the legislation will help bring IMS into the 21st Century.

“The speedway is an icon in Indianapolis and the state,” Turner said. “When people think of Indiana they mention the Indianapolis 500 and the movie ‘Hoosiers’.”

Turner said the intent is to make it a motor sports bill. He said there are 48 other race tracks operating in Indiana.

“There are 1,600 businesses in Indiana involved in motorsports,” he said. “They employ 23,000 people, have gross revenues of $3 billion and are located in 91 of the state’s 92 counties. There are three centers for the sport in the world, in England, North Carolina and Indiana.”

Other tracks and businesses would have the opportunity to access up to $5 million per year over the next 20 years. Turner said the funds would be in the form of a loan.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation will determine what businesses would receive the loans through an application process.

Imagine new grandstands at Kokomo or Anderson Speedway in the future. Better public facilities such as restrooms, concessions and parking areas.

Indiana has subsidized the two horse racing tracks for decades with tax dollars and revenues generated by the tracks.

For once our lawmakers are looking outside of the box to assist an industry with deep roots in the state and one that can attract thousands of tourists and race fans to facilities throughout the state.

In other racing news: Sometime this week we will learn what, if any, penalties NASCAR will place on the Penske Racing team after rear end housing parts were removed from the cars of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano at Texas Motor Speedway.

There has been a lot of speculation that Hendrick Motorsports somehow is able to skirt the NASCAR rules and dominate the sport. What a line of baloney. If that was the case drivers with Hendrick would have won every Sprint Car race to date.

Of the seven races to date, Hendrick cars have won three, Joe Gibbs Racing has two and Roush/Fenway has the remaining two.

The problem is NASCAR needs to enforce the rules fairly every week to avoid confusion.

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