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MAHONING VALLEY Officials await word on racetrack



Published: Fri, September 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



A feasibility study should be complete in a month.

By STEPHEN SIFF

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CLEVELAND -- The experts have not delivered their opinion on Trumbull County's proposed indoor NASCAR racetrack, but commissioners from Trumbull and Mahoning counties got a sneak peak Wednesday at what they might say.

The $60,000 feasibility study by Public Financial Management was approved by commissioners from both counties in January.

"In talking to the people of the county, I get a good response back," said Ed Reese, a Mahoning County commissioner. "They are eagerly waiting to hear the possibility and feasibility of this thing."

The racetrack, first proposed by Brant Motorsports of Morgantown, W.Va., for the Pittsburgh area, would put a mile-long racetrack under a 42-acre roof.

Whether NASCAR, the premiere auto racing franchise, would bring a race to the facility after it's built is another question.

Much effort needed

"NASCAR is a possibility if this happens, but it will take a whole lot to make it happen," Reese said.

For one, the racetrack promoters would have to find events to fill the 65,000 or seats every week, not just when big-time racing comes to town.

But location could be on its side, Reese said. The track, proposed for a site near the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, could attract sports fans from Pittsburgh and Cleveland. The nearest big-league racetrack is 300 miles away, Reese said.

The full study will likely be delivered in a month to the Western Reserve Port Authority, which is funded by Trumbull and Mahoning counties.

The port authority, which is funded by both counties, would likely provide development assistance to Brant Motorsports.

When Brant Motorsports planned to build the facility in Pittsburgh, the cost was estimated at $400 million, with between $60 million and $80 million coming from public sources.

Reese said financing was discussed at the meeting but declined to say how much state and local governments would be asked to pitch in.

"It is very complicated with different types of bonds," he said. "It is not Financing 101."

siff@vindy.com




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