The New canton motor speedway UPDATE Posted on July 28, 2007 at 09:16:38 AM by Ralph LeMunyon
Friday July 27 canton repository http://www.cantonrep.com/archive/index.php?ID=367213&Category=9
Munson Stadium race track plans hit a roadblock
Friday, July 27, 2007
By ED BALINT
REPOSITORY STAFF WRITER
CANTON Plans for a stock-car racing track at Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium may be off the table.
Earlier this week, city officials met to discuss a formal proposal pitched by Randy Smith, a local car lot owner with a background in stock-car racing.
Smith proposed a lease-purchase agreement with the city lasting up to 15 years. During that time, Smith would pay the city $2,500 a month to lease the property and baseball stadium with the option to buy the site in the future.
However, Mayor Janet Weir Creighton says the city would only consider selling Thurman Munson to Smith for $1 million. Creighton said she doesn't want the city to get stuck with the track if it closes.
"Our concern is if we allow this to go forward, and for some reason the track does not succeed," Creighton said, "then the city is saddled with a race track, which we believe is harder to market than a baseball field."
"We're throwing it really back in their laps," she said. "One way or another we need to fish or cut bait."
But Smith said he cannot afford to buy the property for $1 million, not counting the money it would cost to transform the baseball stadium into a stock-car racing track. Even if Smith offered to buy Thurman Munson, City Council would have to approve and arrange the transaction.
Of his next step, Smith said, "I'm not sure what I'm going to do."
"I haven't thrown in the towel yet, but I'm wobbling."
The city apparently could transfer the property to the Canton Community Improvement Corp., which could sell it to Smith, or the city could take bids on the stadium site.
Service Director Joseph Concatto said Smith had suggested the $1 million sale price. Thurman Munson, located on Allen Avenue SE and near Cleveland Avenue near Canton's southern boundary with Canton Township, is appraised at $2.3 million, Concatto said.
Of the figure, Concatto said, "It's not what it's appraised at, it's what you can get."
Smith, who owns Smith's Auto Sales & Service in Canton and Louisville and Canton Auto Salvage, said, "I thought we had a tentative deal. It was just a matter of working out the details."
"I didn't need to do this project," said Smith, former owner of Midvale Speedway in Tuscarawas County near New Philadelphia. "It's something I wanted to do. I think it would have been good for racing, and I think it would have been good for the city."
Smith, however, acknowledged that the parties never signed a deal. Concatto said that city officials had been waiting for more details about the plans.
An architect has already drawn up preliminary plans for the tri-oval track, Smith said.
BASEBALL OR RACING
Under the proposed lease agreement, if the race track folded, the city still would own the Thurman Munson site, including the paved track, Concatto said. Creighton said it would be easier for the city to market a baseball stadium than the track.
Seating roughly 5,000, Thurman Munson used to be home to the Canton-Akron Indians, a minor league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians that was moved to Akron.
In the meantime, the stadium continues to be used by an Akron-based baseball league and by the Canton Joint Recreation District, Concatto said. The city spends roughly $40,000 annually on stadium maintenance and utilities, he said. No money has been spent on renovations in recent years.
Reach Repository writer Ed Balint at (330) 580-8315 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Replies: