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Quiet wins in Michigan
As promised, here is the article regarding the final outcome of the
proposal for a permanent Indy-style racetrack at the Michigan State
Fairgrounds in Detroit. Its DEAD! However, there are still some
people trying to keep it going. They will probably try again soon
somewhere else nearby. One development group even wants to put an
Indy-style racetrack in sparsely populated Northern Lower Michigan
bringing noise and congestion there. Of course none of the developers
live anywhere near the proposed sites.
Detroit Racetrack Plan Ends
Residents feared noise at fairgrounds - January 31, 1997
BY JENNIFER DIXON
Free Press Staff Writer
Bowing to opposition from neighborhood groups and city leaders on both
sides of 8 Mile Road, Palace Sports and Entertainment shelved plans Thursday
for a $40-million Indy-style auto track at the Michigan State Fairgrounds.
"We're not in business to be controversial or bad neighbors, and when it
looked like it was going to be a constant struggle, we felt the prudent thing
was to walk away," said Tom Wilson, president of Palace Sports and
Entertainment. Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and residents of nearby
neighborhoods fought the speedway, saying the noise of roaring engines and
traffic would spoil an area of gracious brick homes and drive down property
values. "I am relieved for the residents," Archer said. He lived in Palmer
Woods, near the proposed site, until he was elected mayor. "You can
appreciate the noise of a racetrack," Archer said. "I love racing. But you
can imagine . . . the noise to overcome." Archer said he supports new
development at the fairgrounds, but it must conform to the community.
The Palace's plans, announced last November, called for construction of a
1-mile, oval motor sports track and entertainment facility on about 80 acres
at the fairgrounds. Grandstands and suites were to be built. Construction was
to start this spring, and the racetrack was to begin operating in 1998.
Wilson said the racetrack could have generated up to $1 billion over 10
years, created 2,500 full and part-time jobs, pumped millions of tax dollars
into government coffers, and helped revitalize Detroit.
But the Palace underestimated the strength of the opposition. "It had
almost a life of its own, a mentality that this was going to be the worst
thing that ever happened," Wilson said. Wilson said officials in Macomb and
Oakland counties have expressed interest in the proposal. He said the project
will get a second look. "I can't tell you we'll go ahead with this; it's
time to re-evaluate everything we were planning to do," Wilson said.
The Pontiac Silverdome, which is losing the Lions to a downtown Detroit
stadium, has been mentioned as a possible site. But Patterson said it may be
too small for the track, although the parking is ideal. Ferndale Mayor Pro
Tem Dennis Emmi, who opposed the fairgrounds track, said the Silverdome is
better suited for a speedway. "I'd like to see it fill that $20-million
deficit called the Silverdome," he said.
The Palace's announcement caught opponents off guard. "I'm shocked by the
very sudden change in their position," said John Roach, a spokesman for
ICARE, the Inter-county Citizens Against Racetrack Establishment, a group of
neighborhood activists that sprang up to fight the racetrack. "This is a
very pleasant surprise," he said. "But in some ways, it's a bittersweet
outcome because we certainly favor redeveloping the state fairgrounds and we
want to be able to be part of that dialogue." Emmi, whose city, along with
Pleasant Ridge, passed resolutions against the proposed track, was likewise
pleased with the decision. "It's a complete and happy surprise," Emmi said.
"I think Gov. Engler realized there were some people down here that
definitely deserve some consideration." The Detroit City Council was also on
record opposing the racetrack, and the new chairman of the Michigan House
Appropriations Committee, Democratic Rep. Morris Hood of Detroit, had planned
a public hearing for Feb. 3 to allow residents of the area to "voice their
Staff writers Brian Murphy, Jeff Martin and Lekan Oguntoyinbo contributed to
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