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Lawmakers forge deal to help Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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Lawmakers in the Indiana House and the Senate have reached a deal to help pay for improvements at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a key legislator said Thursday.

The plan authorizes the state to loan the speedway $100 million – money it will borrow through bonds – to make the grandstands more accessible to people with disabilities and to install lights for night races.

The House and Senate initially passed different versions of the legislation to aid the track. But one of the sponsors, Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, said Thursday that lawmakers had reached a compromise.

Under the proposal, the loan will be paid back using increased sales and income paid at the track and with a $1 per admission tax for events. Lawmakers estimate those will generate about $5 million per year.

In addition, the legislation requires the Speedway to contribute $2 million per year to help pay for the project.

The language of the bill originally appeared in Senate Bill 91, authored by Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis. However, Turner said the language was moved to House Bill 1544. That bill, authored by Turner, was stripped of its original tax language.

Turner said the proposal that now sits in front of lawmakers is “much like it left the House.” That means it includes $5 million in each of the next two years that other race tracks and motorsports businesses can borrow at loan interest rates for expansions or other projects.

“It’s truly a motorsports bill for the whole state,” Turner said.

He said motorsports is a $3 billion industry and employs 23,000 people.

“We want to continue growing it and we think this is a good way to do it,” he said.

Turner said he expects the House and Senate to vote on the bill on Friday.

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  • 4 for 4 Burl!!!!
    MVP - MVP - MVP!
  • NASCAR
    The attendance stats for NASCAR are depressed just like Indy. With the issues the teams, drivers and tracks are having with NASCAR mgt. look for a new stock car series to emerge.
  • Fewer Seats and Feets
    Seats are being taken out, not addded. That is because fewer people attend the "500" than twenty years ago, when it was a big deal. The place is being down-sized to reflect the smaller crowds. That is fact. As for the deal with the State, the taxpayers ought to be outraged. An H-G bailout for all of Lord Saggy's horrible, wasteful, fruitless spending on a series that less than 300,000 people in America (sponsors estimations - not mine) follow. It is a sham, a shame, and me thinks the Hulman clan is to blame.
  • Grandstand removal
    Dood, IMS has been tearing DOWN grandstands because they can't fill em anymore. Strangely, that phenomenon started 1996 or so...it's ok though. IMS Place fans will pay mega admission taxes so the 500 can survive on the public dollar. All is good! And, don't forget the $45 bucks to park in the infield....
  • swinbun
    Burl, You must not have been following this story much, or the media coverage over lighting the speedway. Never has there been any mention of running the 500 at night. If a race is to be run at night, it would be the NASCAR race. As for the health of the 500, attendance is growing back every year, and I would challenge that there are more people in the stands than at any time in the in the past 25 years on race day. Most people forget, or do not know that there are tens of thousands more grandstand seats on the backstretch and North end that never existed until the early to mid 90's.
  • Indianapolis 500 At Night
    If the Speedway attempts to hold the Indianapolis 500 at night, it will be the final blow. Hopefully, the rediculous idea if racing at night at IMS in the first place, is for NA$CAR. The Indianapolis 500 is an over one hundred year, Memorial Day/Weekend Spring time tradition, Sunday before Memorial day now for decades. It will be interesting to see if the reckless and inept IMS crew attempts to run the event at night. If so, I predict lots of interest for the first couple, then a ratings and attendance diaster in subsequent years. The only way to "save" the Indianapolis 500 now is to open it up to a deisgners/builders series based around a basic safety spec and modest cap on development so that the sport is not dominated by deep pokcet, America's Yacht-types, who would have a budget the same as a small, Indiana Sprint car team. It would come down to how good a builder are you within this basic safety spec, and how good a driver can you find to wheel it. Speed records do not have to be achieved. Serious racing at 210 is sufficient. Fix the "500" soon or it dies, day or night.
    • Education vs. Sports
      Although sports do play a significant role in education, you are very right. Why don't we add a small fee to every sporting event in the state that goes into an "improve teacher to student ratio fund".
    • Add Requirements
      The 500 has lost significant ground compared to the over-all racing industry. Assuming "sales increases" is a stretch at the least. To return the 500 to its former glory as " the greatest spectacle in racing", they should add requirements like un-restricted engine specifications. Now that would open some eyes.
      • Sports VS Schools
        It would be nice if our lawmakers took more interest in our schools than they do in our sports. This is what will always make Indiana backwards.

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        1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

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