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Racetrack financing package revealed

Great Western Sports (GWS) this week revealed its proposal for the public/private partnership to build a racetrack in Kitsap County, managing an even split between the two entities.

The cost of construction, estimated at $345 million, will come from $166 million from the corporation and the same amount from sales tax bonds. The remaining $13 million--four percent--will come from sales tax bonds that will be paid off from tax paid at the gate.

As the public portion is paid through sales tax bonds, GWS is able to claim the support will not require any new taxes, nor will the funds come directly from residents’ pockets.

GWS said it will also cover any cost overruns beyond the projected $345 construction costs.

“Historically, this is the most balanced public/private partnership ever presented to the State of Washington,” International Speedway Corp. Vice President Grant Lynch said. “We will build a world-class speedway that will be the most scenic racetrack in the country.”

Lynch acknowledges the situation could change.

“This is not a done deal, it’s just a proposal,” he said.

The proposal, presented Wednesday, was anxiously awaited by all observers and will for many determine whether they support or oppose the project. North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen, for instance, said “I am generally opposed to public/private funding for private facilities.”

During the waiting period for the proposal the idea received endorsements from the Port Orchard and Bremerton Chambers of Commerce as well as the Kitsap County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.

“I’m glad to finally have some meat, something where I can evaluate the benefits,” said Central Kitsap Commissioner Patty Lent. South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel had not read the full proposal at press time, but said she was “pleased to see that the project will always have a positive cash flow.”

When asked to categorize their support of the racetrack on a scale of one to ten, Angel placed herself as a seven while Lent is a five. Endresen refused to categorize her position numerically.

The racetrack is proposed for a 950-acre plot near the Bremerton Airport.

The next step for ISC is to find a legislative sponsor who will introduce a bill to begin the bond process. Officials say they are not far enough along to comment on the process, but said they did not expect the matter would be presented to the public for a vote.

While any venture requires a risk, GSC is making the following guarantees:

* Host two major events each year.

* Attempt to secure the NASCAR Nextel Cup or another comparable event, and not move the event elsewhere for 25 years.

* Not construct a competing racetrack within 500 miles of this facility.

Additionally, the racetrack sponsors will commit to a 75-year-lease.

“We want to be your partners for a long, long time,” Lynch said.

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