Chicago area racetrack update 96-12-23

The DuPage Airport Authority Board of Commissioners met this morning, Monday, 23-Dec, to choose a group to proceed with for the potential construction a racetrack on its property in west suburban Chicago near the DuPage-Kane County line. ...

The DuPage Airport Authority Board of Commissioners met this morning, Monday, 23-Dec, to choose a group to proceed with for the potential construction a racetrack on its property in west suburban Chicago near the DuPage-Kane County line. Deemed by the Indianapolis Star/News to be one of the most lucrative sites for a new racetrack, the Board of Commissioners selected the Motorsports Alliance, a consortium of International Speedway Corporation, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and John Menard.

The Board delayed the start of its 8:00 AM meeting at the Airport Flight Center by 1/2 hour. Bad weather conditions (fog and rain) delayed the flights of some members of the various groups and the Board wanted to allow time for them to arrive. The most notable absentees were Chip Ganassi and Charles Gessner, principals in the DuPage Speedway and Entertainment Complex, and Philip Bayt, attorney and spokesman for the Motorsports Alliance.

After waiting one-half hour, the Board started by dealing with other airport business on the agenda. When it was time to address the racetrack decision, Chairman Joseph Kindlon asked if any of the groups wanted to make a last comment. A member of the DuPage Speedway and Entertainment Complex (DSEC) asked for additional time. The group was expecting Chip Ganassi to fly in and the attendance of Bobby Rahal, Carl Haas, and Walter Payton of Payton-Coyne Racing among others to support the DSEC proposal. Chairman Kindlon acknowledged DSEC's request but pointed out that it would be unfair to the other groups to delay the decision any further and that doing so would risk the success of a potential racetrack. At least one of the groups was looking into other options in the area.

Commissioner Vernon McCarthy pointed out that while all three groups had submitted fine proposals, the Board of Commissioners is responsible to the taxpayers of DuPage County and is not in the business of risking the taxpayers' money.

Before the vote, a member of the DSEC group made a final statement. He pointed out that the group was deeply committed to the DuPage racing facility. It would be their only facility not the second or third as it would be for members of the Motorsports Alliance. Additionally, Chip Ganassi, a principal in the DSEC, is committed to moving his family, his business, and his racing operation to DuPage County should the proposal of his group be selected. Finally, the DSEC pointed out that while the Motorsports Alliance had financial strength, they had not presented any financial commitment to the racetrack; the DSEC, on the other hand, had.

Neither the Motorsports Alliance nor the other respondent to the Request for Qualifications, Tag Sport, Ltd., made a statement.

A motion was made by an Airport Authority Board member to select the Motorsports Alliance proposal. It was seconded and passed by unanimous voice vote. One Commissioner, who is an employee of McDonald's Corporation, abstained from the vote because Ed Rensi, President of McDonald's, sits on the Board of Directors of International Speedway Corporation and the commissioner didn't want the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The next step is for the Airport Authority to sign a contract with the Motorsports Alliance which will remove the property from the market for a period of twelve months. This is expected to take place in January. The Motorsports Alliance will use this time to carry out environmental and economic impact studies and business assessments. The Alliance will then bring forward to the Board a formal proposal for developing a racetrack on the DuPage Airport Authority's property.

Stay tuned...

-- Phil _____________________________________________________________ Philip Gravel Lisle, Illinois pgravel@mcs.net

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Series General
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Carl Haas , Chip Ganassi