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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