Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

April 4, 2014

Raceway Rebate should move forward next week

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Pleasantville — Rep. Greg Heartsill believes that the $2 million sales tax rebate for the Knoxville Raceway will move out of the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday and get full House approval on Tuesday or Wednesday. 

The Knoxville Raceway is planning to invest between $4-6 million for a new building and other improvements on the Marion County Fairgrounds. It is seeking up to $2 million in sales tax rebates to assist in the cost of the renovations. Raceway General Manager Brian Stickel has previously said that the renovations will occur regardless of the Legislature's actions regarding the request, but the work may take longer to accomplish without the rebate. 

Meanwhile, Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law on Wednesday changes to an existing agreement between the State and the Iowa Speedway. The Iowa Speedway was granted $12.5 million in sales tax rebates over 10 years when the track opened. Of that, Iowa Speedway is still eligible to receive up to $9 million in rebates. The Legislature also waived a requirement that the speedway have some Iowa ownership. NASCAR purchased the speedway in November 2013. 

Heartsill supported the changes to the Iowa Speedway agreement. He believes it is a better alternative to a request made by the speedway in 2013, in which $8 million in direct assistance was requested. Heartsill also wanted to ensure that his vote regarding the speedway's request would not adversely affect the efforts of himself and others regarding the Knoxville Raceway's request. 

Heartsill was asked why he thought the request to provide assistance to worldwide, multi-million dollar corporation NASCAR, moved so quickly, while Knoxville Raceway, managed by the nonprofit Marion County Fair Board, saw its request lag. Speculation leads Heartsill to believe that an agreement in regard to the Iowa Speedway had already been made before the session began.