Night racing a possibility at IMS if proposal becomes law

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Track officials want to make more than $100 million of improvements to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in order to remain competitive.

State Senator Michael Young, R-District 35, has been working with track officials. He introduced a proposal for a bond, which would create an Indiana Motorsports Investment District. It guarantees that money generated through sales and income taxes within IMS properties would be reinvested in the track.

“We are trying to capture revenue generated inside (the) facility. (We are) not trying to generate anything beyond that,” said Doug Boles, IMS Vice President of Communications.

Senator Young said the partnership between the state and IMS could help bring people back to the track.

“We’re not getting the revenue from the track like we do or did before and this is going to be a way to get those revenues back,” Senator Young said.

Senator Young is hopeful the proposal will pass, during this session. He said this would allow track officials the opportunity to make improvements. The proposal would not dip into property taxes.

“The track is going to put in lights so they can run these races at night not at the heat of the day. (It) allows them to get other types of races to come in and maybe use the venue for other things besides a race, (and) can generate additional income,” Senator Young said.

Young said, up front, the state would put up $5 million and the track would put up about $2 to $4 million.

“If they can’t produce the income and the state doesn’t get the $5 million, the track’s going to have to come up with whatever amount is short. So, the taxpayers aren’t on the hook for this at all,” Senator Young said.

Boles said the proposed improvements would include new technology in order to improve communication with fans. Another possible project would be to add new video boards and new LCD screens. He said they have spoken about adding lights.

“It really allows us to get away from having a hard stop on an event that says when it’s dark you can’t race here anymore,” Boles said.

Boles said it would allow them to continue races at night, if they were stopped because of the weather. He stressed nothing is final and that these are only possible projects.

“It does open up the conversation that we could have with NASCAR and that’s the conversation we haven’t had. So, we’d have to have it with NASCAR about moving the Brickyard to a night race, but again, we’re on the front end of that,” Boles said.

Boles said he does not think the Indy 500 would ever happen at night.

“Night racing just gives us more flexibility. So, I think that’s where you would look at that potential with lights to have that flexibility of competing at night even hosting events that start late in the afternoon or even into the evening when you needed lights to run, but again, those are conversations that we haven’t fully vetted yet. And, I think it’s going to take some time before we determine if that’s one of the projects for sure that we would do,” Boles said.

There are venues which have taken advantage of night racing, like the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte and Downs after Dark at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Meanwhile, businesses around the track, are aware about the possibility of improvements.

Charlie Brown’s Pancake and Steak House is located near the track. Owner Elizabeth Glover said her restaurant is busy when there are races.

“I mean, just when the races are going on it’s amazing what happened with my business. I do have a good business when the streets are open. I have a good business (but) when the races (are) going on it increases by about 30 percent. That’s big,” Glover said.

Glover heard about the effort to create improvements at the track. If that is the case and there are races at night, Glover said she is willing to keep her restaurant open later than usual. She would consider obtaining liquor licenses.

“Of course! You chase the business.  Of course I would,” Glover said.

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