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Bremerton track needs approval

6/24/2005

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. – International Speedway Corp.,
thwarted last year in a plan to build a NASCAR racetrack north of
Seattle, announced Thursday it has chosen a new site -- west of
Seattle across Puget Sound.

Officials of the auto racing development and promotion company
based in Daytona Beach, Fla., told a news conference they want to
build an 80,000-seat track on 950 acres near state Route 3, south
of Bremerton National Airport along the Kitsap-Mason county line.

Financing plans were not released at a news conference, but
Grant Lynch, vice president of ISC and project team leader,
estimated $120 million in annual economic impact from the $250
million track and said no new taxes would be required to foot the
bill.

"This project carries its own water," Lynch said.

He said the biggest race at the track would have the economic
impact of the Super Bowl.

Lynch said the track's sunken bowl configuration would contain
some noise and help the project blend into the natural beauty of
the area.

If the Legislature approves and county permits are issued,
construction could begin in 2007 or 2008 on a track of 7/8 of a
mile to 1.2 miles, surrounded by parking and camping areas with a
tiered grandstand offering views of Mount Rainier in clear weather,
the Kitsap Sun reported.

Lynch acknowledged access was an issue.

To reach the site, race fans could drive on two-lane highways,
take any of four different ferry routes or fly into the airport.
Plans to reconfigure the transportation system to accommodate
increased traffic could take years to negotiate, said Lloyd Brown,
communications manager for the Olympic Region of the state
Department of Transportation.

He said Thursday that it was too early to even make a rough
estimate of how much the transportation changes would cost.

Lane capacity on Route 3 is 1,600 cars per lane per hour, Brown
said. The state is currently adding lanes to state Route 16, as
well as building a second Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The new bridge is
scheduled to open to traffic in April 2007, then the old bridge
will be retrofitted. Both bridges would not be open at the same
time until early 2008.

Last September, ISC officials announced the selection of a site
along Interstate 5 near Marysville -- north of Seattle -- for a
75,000-seat NASCAR track, promising to spend $50 million of the
$250 million cost and cover any overruns in exchange for $200
million of public financing. But ISC abandoned that plan after
environmental and siting issues arose and government officials
balked at the financing.

ISC then reopened the site selection process across much of
western Oregon and Washington.

"I think they learned a lot from the Snohomish deal," said
state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch. "That whole deal was a
debacle." Sheldon predicted this new track proposal would have a
50-50 chance of gaining legislative approval.

One advantage of the new site, officials said, was that only one
landowner is directly involved, compared with 30 at the Marysville
location.

"I've had a feeling from day one that we would have an
opportunity at this," Kitsap County Commissioner Janice E. Angel
said.

Lt. Gov. Brad Owen estimated transportation costs for the new
site would be similar to the Snohomish County plan, but other costs
such as property and legal fees would be less.

Owen, who lives in nearby Shelton off Route 3, said he is a
supporter of bringing NASCAR to Washington, not because he is a
racing fan but because of the projected economic impact.

"I've always felt that the track was a tremendous economic
opportunity for the state that would be foolish to pass up," Owen
said.

Economic development agencies throughout the region have
competed in efforts to lure the track, which could generate $87.3
million to $121.8 million in business a year, mostly from
out-of-state tourists, according to a study commissioned by
supporters.

ISC owns most of its 11 tracks outright, but the proposed track
near Marysville would have been publicly owned and leased to the
company for three car races a year -- the same number contemplated
at the Bremerton National site.

Company officials said a similar partnership is part of the new
plan.

ISC officials said they were eager to build a racetrack in the
Pacific Northwest, which now has at least 11,000 ticket-buying
fans, because the Southeast market is well-saturated and the
nearest West Coast track is in Sonoma, Calif., about 40 miles north
of San Francisco, Lynch said.

"When you look at the map, there's basically a quarter of the
country that we're not serving," Lynch said.