Kansas Speedway construction races along
At the Kansas Speedway, construction is booming, and so is business.
Last Thursday, Speedway officials announced the first five marketing partners.
One of these, the University of Kansas Medical Center, will staff and manage a fully functional in-field care center, as well as a number of first aid stations throughout the facility.
Ford, Pepsi-Cola, Price Chopper supermarkets and Coors Brewing Company were also named as marketing partners.
Representing Kansas City Coors Light, Joe Montana fielded questions from the audience. When asked what would be the chances be of his returning to play for the Kansas City Chiefs, Montana quipped, "About as good a chance as me getting in one of those race cars."
Grant Lynch, president of Kansas Speedway Corporation, said as yet no official name had been chosen for the track.
"We are looking for a partner to help us market our facility in Wyandotte County, Kansas City and the rest of Kansas," Lynch said. "If we can find a partner who is good for these areas, then that would help us choose. But right now we have nobody lined up."
With the track scheduled to open in the spring of 2001, Lynch said the pass program has already been successful. The passes provide a minimum 30-year right to renew seating each year. "This has exceeded our expectations," Lynch said. "We've sold slightly over 13,000 passes at this point."
During a drive-through tour of the track construction area, Ryan Fay, director of marketing and sales, said the earth-moving part of the construction has been going well. So far, 9 million cubic yards of dirt have been moved, and 2 million more yards have yet to be moved.
"No dirt is being brought in or taken out," Fay said. "Everything is staying here."
Bulldozers and scrapers are running 20 hours a day in two shifts, pausing only for four-hour gas and maintenance sessions between shifts.
Just to the right of the main entrance to the track will be a parking area that will hold 65,000 vehicles. Parking will be free, Fay said.
To help the traffic move in and out, State Avenue will be widened to five lanes and there will be only one-way traffic before and after the events.
"We should be able to clear the parking lot of 150,000 people in two hours," Fay said.
At the main concourse area, columns rise from the sandstone-covered earth in an area raised 50 feet to accommodate the stadium.
The first stage of construction will include 75,000 seats. Jim Platt, head of ticket operations, said that eventually 10,000 seats will be added to each end of the stadium, and about 50,000 seats will be built along the back course, making a total seating capacity of about 150.
Until the back course seating is built, that area, and the infield area as well, will hold parking spaces for about 300 recreational vehicles. On weekends of races, the RVs will be able to park there from Thursday evening through Monday morning.
Fay said it is hoped that four major races, the Winston Cup, Busch, Craftsman Truck and open wheel, will be held at the Speedway every year.
The track will provide 30 to 40 full-time jobs, and about 3,000 workers will be needed on race days. "We hope to tap into temporary employment agencies, rotary clubs and church groups to find enough people," Fay said.
400-acre tract for commercial development
As far as the future of the track and how it will hold the ability to affect many lives, Fay said, "It's just such an amazing opportunity."
Monday, the Unified Board of Commissioners of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., held a press conference to explain the development potential of a 400-acre tract adjoining the Speedway.
It is said that the area, north and east of the track on Parallel Road, will hold 3.4 million square feet of development for retail, commercial, entertainment and office space.
Fay said the site is privately owned, but is subject to condemnation so that the government can designate it as a redevelopment area.