HEARTLAND MOTORSPORTS PARK OWNER THREATENS RELOCATION
If Bruton Smith taught the city leaders of Concord, NC one thing, a strip owner has options. Smith threated to pack up his historic race track and move to another town if his drag strip proposal was not approved.
Chris Payne, who became the owner of Heartland Motorsports Park last January, has made a declaration of his own to the Shawnee County (KS) leaders. He's tired of fighting over property taxes and ready, will and able to bulldoze the current facility and move closer to Kansas City and construct another multi-faceted racing facility.
“Heartland Motorsports is considering its options and looking into relocating, only because of the current situation — the current taxes and the threat of increasing them annually on a 30-year-old facility that’s only open six, seven months a year,″ Payne told The Topeka Capital-Journal. “You can relocate elsewhere, with less taxes and a new facility, and be better off.
“My intentions certainly wouldn’t have been in the beginning to spend millions of dollars to rejuvenate and rebuild the facility, knowing that this is how it was going to end up. My loyalty is towards Topeka, but Topeka doesn’t necessarily have loyalty towards Heartland, and I say that in reference to Shawnee County.
“They’re basically taxing me out of town or out of business.″
According to the Topeka Capital-Journal report, Payne paid $344,000 in property taxes for the year for the facility and all of his properties and owes nearly $522,000 in back taxes to Shawnee County, according to the Shawnee County Appraiser’s website.
Payne said in the report he offered to donate the Heartland Motorsports Park property to the city, but his offer was declined. A Topeka city official said the proposal is being reviewed.
In the meantime, Payne is looking for a place to relocate and would like to identify a new property by Spring. The Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals, slated for June 7-9.
NHRA President Glen Cromwell said he hopes the parties can solve the issues at hand.
“NHRA has had a great relationship with Heartland Motorsports Park and the city of Topeka for 30 years," Cromwell said. "We love the fans in the community and all they do to embrace NHRA drag racing. Chris Payne has invested a lot into the facility, the community and NHRA. We hope that he and Shawnee County can come to a sustainable solution so Heartland Motorsports Park can continue to thrive.”