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Grant to study track is on course to be OK'd



Published: Thu, August 25, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Trumbull County could be home to the world's first indoor motor sports racetrack.

By ED RUNYAN

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

VIENNA -- A federal grant to determine feasibility of an indoor racetrack near the airport in Vienna Township is looking like it will be approved soon, a local official said.

Reid Dulberger, executive vice president of the Regional Chamber, told the Western Reserve Port Authority on Wednesday to expect the grant to be presented to the authority for its approval by about the October meeting.

Dulberger said he expected the federal Economic Development Administration to approve a $185,000 grant before the end of the current fiscal year, which ends in September, and that Alan Knapp, the Trumbull County Planning Commission director, will present it to the port authority then.

The grant will be matched dollar-for-dollar by local funds from several groups. The local share breakdown, according to Knapp, is:

U$40,000 from Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

U$40,000 from the port authority.

U$65,000 from Brant Motorsports of Morgantown, W.Va., the project developer.

U$40,000 from organizations including Trumbull 100, Western Reserve Building Trades and the Builders Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

Study

The money will go to hire a consultant or consultants for studying "the world's first indoor motor-sports racetrack, including identification of needed infrastructure, a marketing study, economic impact analysis, engineering and design review and other studies," according to the planning commission.

The project is being called the Mahoning Valley Motorsports and Exhibition Center.

Dulberger noted that one of the more important aspects of the study would be to determine how to deal with the fumes and noise that would come from indoor motor sports.

In April, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, said the project will move forward if the study shows the racetrack is a viable project. If the study indicates the project isn't doable, the speedway will not be built, he said.

Ryan successfully got money for the study into the federal EDA reauthorization bill enacted last year. The supporters don't know where the $300 million to actually build the facility would come from or who would own it. These and other questions could be answered by the study.

Bob Brant, president of Brant Motorsports, has said the track would be built to initially seat 60,000 and be expandable to seat 120,000 people. Brant wants the project to be funded from a mix of private and public entities. Brant said his company has spent more than $4 million on the indoor racetrack concept.

An initial $60,000 study, with the cost split between Mahoning and Trumbull county commissioners, conducted about 21/2 years ago determined the racetrack idea had merit.

runyan@vindy.com




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