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Eye On Olympia

Speedway proponents pull the plug on the Kitsap Peninsula site…

Great Western Sports, Inc., which for two years has been eyeing and trying to convince lawmakers to steer millions of local tax dollars into a NASCAR track on the Kitsap Peninsula, has given up on the project.

“We’ve just made this decision, and now we’re going to sort of regroup internally” before considering the next step for a Pacific Northwest speedway, said spokesman Lenny Santiago. “We don’t have any other sites for it on, quote, unquote, the back burner.”

Locally generated taxes, including an admissions tax, would have paid for more than half of the $368 million track complex. Great Western Sports would have then leased the facility under a long-term contract.

Th deal-killer, Great Western Sports president Grant Lynch said in a written statement, was a series of “significant revisions” that people were calling for in order for the tax plan to process. The changes, he said, would have hurt the profitability of the track.

“Washington is a great state and home to some of the best motorsports fans I have ever encountered,” Lynch said. “As a company, we still believe the Northwest represents a significant opportunity for a speedway development and we remain interested in the region.”

Santiago wouldn’t elaborate on what precisely the hitch was.

“It doesn’t behoove us to get into the details,” he said.

He noted, however, that the company was willing to abide by a local public vote on the proposed track, spend $1 million on environmental conservation and other changes.

Lawmakers and Gov. Chris Gregoire had floated the suggestion that the track might be a better fit in rural Lewis County, about and hour and a half south of Seattle. The county recently lost hundreds of high-paying jobs when a coal mine closed. Track officials said in February that they’d look at the area, but that it was critical the track be close to thousands of hotel rooms and a major media market.


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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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