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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis), October 31, 2009 article


Memphis Commercial Appeal - Printer-friendly story

With races moved out, MMP becomes hard sale

By Marlon W. Morgan

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Upon hearing the news Friday that Dover Motorsports was closing Memphis Motorsports Park, Kevin Kane wasted no time picking up the phone.

The president of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau began making calls to anyone he thought might be interested in purchasing the Mid-South race track.

Dover Motorsports, which bought the track in 1998, closed MMP on Friday, citing a down economy that has led to decreased attendance for more than a year. Earlier this year, it appeared that MMP was going to be sold to Gulf Coast Entertainment for $10 million as part of of $560 million project that included a speedway in Mobile, Ala.

But after being given two extensions, that deal fell through, leading to Friday's bad news. Gone with MMP are more than 250 events, including its three biggest races -- the Kroger On Track for the Cure 250 Nationwide Series race, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 200 and the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

''I would like to see the facility purchased and the infrastructure remain intact, if at all possible, even with no races,'' Kane said. ''The short-term likelihood of getting sanctioned races on a calendar regardless of who is operating it are slim to none for a while.

"I think the reality of this is we're going to be without those forms of racing here for at least some given amount of time."

Dover Motorsports president and CEO Denis McGlynn said it was a difficult decision to close the Millington track. But with the economy hurting most racing events outside of the Sprint Cup series, it made business sense to close MMP. NASCAR has agreed to move the 2010 Nationwide Series race to Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis and the Truck race to the Nashville Superspeedway. Both tracks are owned by Dover Motorsports.

In the meantime, McGlynn said, he's willing to listen to any suitors for MMP.

"We're going to sit tight for a few weeks and see who rings the phone, or what they have to say," McGlynn said. "There may be some people interested in buying it. We will try to put it up for sale and we'll entertain offers. If none of those are acceptable, we'll probably get a Realtor to intercede and see what we could do."

McGlynn didn't say what his asking price would be, but Kane figures it will be much less than the $10 million sought from Gulf Coast Entertainment now that the races are no longer included in the deal.

"That's a big blow to whoever would want to purchase it," Kane said. "That's why my concern is, God forbid, somebody purchases it and builds warehouses. I would hate to see that infrastructure of the facility lost. We'll see what happens.

"I've already spoken to some people in the community and we're going to be in close contact with the officials at Dover. I'm going to see what we can do."


Scripps Interactive Newspaper Group Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group
2009 The E.W. Scripps Co.



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