Knoxville — Gov. Terry Branstad was in Knoxville Tuesday to sign HF2464, a bill that provides up to $2 million in sales tax rebates to Knoxville Raceway over 10 years.
The Knoxville Raceway announced earlier this year plans to expand the facility. The Marion County Fair Board, owners of the Knoxville Raceway, are developing long-term plans for the race track and the fairgrounds overall. Plans being considered area four-story building on the southeast corner of the track where the Skate Pit currently stands, an entry plaza and skywalk to existing stands, additional skyboxes, a rooftop terrace, raceway offices and retail space are also being considered. The Skate Pit would be relocated, either inside the new building or to Dyer-Hudson Hall.
The board intends to spend between $4-6 million on the improvements. Raceway General Manager Brian Stickel said that the plans would move forward regardless of legislative action, but the sales tax rebate will help the project see completion sooner.
Rep. Greg Heartsill introduced the original proposal for the rebate, modeled after a similar one granted to the Iowa Speedway in Newton. The bill number changed and it was floor managed by Rep. Guy VanderLinden. The final bill received strong support from the House and the Senate.
"This is a big day for Knoxville," Gov. Terry Branstad said. He believes that the legislation is important to help meet his administration's goal of economic development and increased tourism. The partnership between the community and government is something that he also highlighted.
Branstad added that he was glad to come to the fairgrounds for the event, despite the chill in the air and the overcast skies.
Marion County Fair Board President Jason Reed said he was glad to welcome the governor and that he was thankful for the State's support. He appreciated the number of board members who attended. Now that the bill has become law, the board's focus will shift to moving the expansion plan forward. A committee will be formed to start planning the expansion.
Also in attendance today were Knoxville Raceway favorites Brian Brown and Jamie Ball. Kyle Kincaid brought a class to the event.