And that’s both a positive and a negative.
Tom Wolf, chairman of the Scott County Board of Commissioners, put it well: “It’s an enormously exciting proposal. There are a lot of opportunities that can come with it. But as with any opportunity, there could be some downfalls. There might be some things that aren’t so great. We have to look at everything when considering this project.”
Wolf and his fellow board members are taking a closer look at a proposal from International Motorsports Entertainment and Development Company for a new motorsports race track and entertainment center being planned for the city of Elko New Market in the southeastern portion of Minnesota’s Scott County.
The proposed racing center, to be named Minnesota Speedway Park, would include a 7/8th-of-a-mile oval track with seating for 65,000 fans. The track would accomodate both Indy and NASCAR races, and would include a quarter-mile dragstrip track with seating for 35,000 that would host NHRA-caliber races.
The center would also house a major hotel and conference facility, exhibition space and recreational vehicle and motorhome camping area.
International Motorsports Entertainment and Development Company introduced its formal proposal Nov. 29 at a joint meeting of the Scott County Board of Commissioners, the Elko New Market City Council, the Elko New Market Planning Commission and the New Market Township Board.
Elwyn Tinklenberg, spokesman for International Motorsports Entertainment and Development Company, said that the proposed location makes sense.
“There is a strong tradition of racing in this county,” Tinklenberg said during a phone interview. “People are used to racing in this area. They know what to expect from a racing center.”
Tinklenberg said that the racing center would provide jobs and tourism dollars to Scott County. And racing fans tend to spend several days in an area when attending races. This bodes well for the area’s restaurants, hotels and retailers, Tinklenberg said.
Wolf, too, agreed that the racing center could mean a steady influx of new dollars into the county.
“If this does happen, it would be a heck of an addition to the tax base,” Wolf said. “Economic development at this point in time is critical. This could really help in that regard.”
Of course, no decisions on the track’s future will be made soon. The Nov. 29 meeting simply jumpstarted a review phase for the project of 10 to 12 months. The developer will now have to prepare an environmental assessment and an environmental impact statement, documents that numerous state and local agencies will have to approve.
(For a longer version of this story, check out the next issue of Minnesota Real Estate Journal.)
– Dan Rafter