Time running out: Florida lawmakers need to drop the green flag on Daytona International Speedway project

Photo for Headline Surfer / Jimmy Johnson takes the checkered flag to win the 55th running of the 2013 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, on Feb. 26.
 
By PATRICIA NORTHEY
For Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Did you know that last Friday, the Indiana General Assembly passed a bill designed to give the Indianapolis Motor Speedway incentives to upgrade its facilities for improving the entertainment experience for its fans. The bill is now on its way to the governor’s desk, and, according to a spokesperson, if signed, will ensure that the venue remains “the world-wide leader in motorsports.”

And just Monday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law legislation that allows for tax exemptions for new large-scale tourism attractions or expansion of attractions, including the Atlanta Motor Speedway, citing his hope that the legislation “encourages the Atlanta Motor Speedway to bring more races to Georgia.”

Here at home, our very own Daytona International Speedway has requested similar state legislation that would support the recently unveiled improvement plan for the track. It is a $250 million plan that would create more than 4,000 construction jobs and 4,200 new permanent jobs, all with private investment dollars. The project is basically a construction overhaul that would redefine the east side of the I-4 corridor. The Speedway’s Frontstretch Improvement and Mixed-Use Facility Project would, without a doubt, bring in the type of economic growth our state and our county so sorely need.

Here at home, our very own Daytona International Speedway has requested similar state legislation that would support the recently unveiled improvement plan for the track. It is a $250 million plan that would create more than 4,000 construction jobs and 4,200 new permanent jobs, all with private investment dollars. The project is basically a construction overhaul that would redefine the east side of the I-4 corridor. The Speedway’s Frontstretch Improvement and Mixed-Use Facility Project would, without a doubt, bring in the type of economic growth our state and our county so sorely need.For this to happen, though, our Legislature needs to act, and time is running out.  

Our state lawmakers should do the right thing and pass House bill 1049 that would give the Speedway the same tax status as other sports venues, making it eligible for sales tax rebates. In addition to adding fairness to the tax structure, the bill would allow the Speedway to move its construction plans forward, and thus the economic boon to our state, and most importantly, our county would begin.

If, however, the latter bill can’t be passed, then at a minimum, Senate bill 306, should be. Though not as economically impactful as the House bill, it does create an incentives program at the Department of Economic Opportunity that would allow various sports venues to compete for funding, including DIS.

The Florida Legislature should pass one of these bills quickly, as time is running out. Let’s not stand by while others are moving ahead. The DIS project is good for the State and it is good for Volusia County.

Pat Northey Picture

Short Bio

Pat Northey of Deltona is the dist. 5 representative on the Volusia County Council. She writes an occasional blog for Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving 10 counties in greater Daytona Beach-Orlando, FL, via HeadlineSurfer.com. She has held the dist. 5 seat representing greater Deltona since 2006. She's also a former two-term at-large incument who was twice selected by her colleagues to serve as county chair before that seat was an elected post.