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Speedway is talk of Statehouse

Published: Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 11:36 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 4:49 p.m. CDT

A national tourism study entitled “Outdoor Recreation in America” acknowledged that spectator sports led the responses of tens of thousands respondents. 

Specifically, motorsports was near the top of the list.  With NASCAR referring to the Iowa Speedway in Newton as the “Fastest short track on the planet,” I would dare say central Iowa is in a great position to show America the best racing there is. 

Add to this the fact that with NASCAR owning and managing the track, one can readily surmise that their purchase decision certainly included an eventual cup race for the growing love affair for exciting short-track events.  And, America’s greatest motorsports drivers will tell you and have been highly vocal about their love for the Newton based 7/8 mile track.

I was a member of the three-person subcommittee on Senate Study Bill 3162 that met this past week to determine the future of the existing sales tax rebate that previous speedway owners received.  Five cents of the seven cent tax on sales occurring on the raceway grounds was returned to the owners by the Department of Revenue. 

The remaining two cents committed to local option and schools were statutorily protected for their intended purpose.  Approximately $3.5 million had been returned since the speedway was constructed in 2006.

In order for NASCAR to be eligible for the rebate, new legislation was essential for two purposes.  The current law requires no less than 25 percent of speedway ownership had to be Iowans.  Since NASCAR is entirely owned by non-Iowans, that provision must be repealed. 

Also, in order to have the state of Iowa be an integral component, the rebate period will be extended to 2026, and is expected to result in the state’s commitment of approximately $9 million.

SSB 3162 was unanimously reported out of subcommittee, and now goes to the full Senate Ways and Means Committee, of which I am a member.  I have full confidence the bill will receive the necessary votes to go to the floor of the Senate for full debate and passage.

NASCAR’s purchase of the Iowa Speedway was a great thing for Newton and central Iowa.  The objective will be a Sprint Cup Series to take place on the Newton based tract, a venue that would most likely bring visitors from all the states across the nation. 

As it is, the Iowa Speedway has season ticket holders from 23 states. It is truly a destination facility.

Destination tourism is the most desirable and profitable noted in visitor-use studies.  Basically considered a family oriented form of recreation, visitors will arrive at their destination several days early in order to get settled and tune into the local atmosphere. 

Newton’s motels will be full, restaurants and service facilities will see plenty of action, and the spill-over is expected to spill into a 50 mile circle.  Des Moines will benefit from many angles, since the capitol city has as many hotel/motel rooms and more restaurants than all the other communities combined.

Enthusiasm is high for what should become a new era for motor racing in central Iowa.   

During the session, call me at (515) 281-3371; write me at the Senate, Capitol Bldg., Des Moines, 50319; or e-mail dennis.black@legis.iowa.gov  I value your thoughts and opinions.

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