Topeka tourism leaders remain optimistic about future of Heartland Motorsports Park
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Leaders of Topeka’s tourism industry are optimistic about the future of Heartland Motorsports Park despite its impending closure and sale next month.
Sean Dixon, president of Visit Topeka, says he wasn’t surprised to learn the track will stop operating and put up a ‘for sale’ sign at the end of October, pointing to a years-long tax battle between the parks owner and the Shawnee County appraiser’s office.
“Honestly, it wasn’t surprising,” says Dixon. “I mean, the the owners have been threatening to do this throughout the entire process that they lost the court proceedings and they lost so it’s it was expected to us we just weren’t sure what the date would be.”
He says Visit Topeka will be working to find an owner to breathe new life into the venue but was not able to share details of who or what that might be.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing all summer on this thing,” he says. “And that’s work with the private sector and the public sector to try to find a solution to new ownership. Some fresh ownership over there, I think would help re-energize a lot what’s happening over there.”
In the meantime, Dixon says Heartland Park’s closure is indeed a setback for Topeka’s tourism economy but remains confident that projects like the Hotel Topeka and Gage Park tax will help the city rebound.
“In terms of the overall impact of tourism, you know, we’ve got a lot of moving parts in this economy that are performing very well for us,” he says. “And just within this year, we’ve seen the hotel Topeka come under public ownership, which will close in October, next month. Cody Foster and advisors Excel picking up the mall for us was a an amazing move.”
“The gage Park tax passed a year ago which is going to inject about $9 million a year into a key tourism asset for us. In fact that area over there is our most visited ticketed attraction space with free amenities attached to it. So all in all, this is obviously a setback for us, but the overall health of the biggest tourism economy is very high.”
When asked about his response to those upset over Heartland Park’s closure he said it’s not the end of the story, just the end of this chapter.
“I’d say we’re upset too. I mean, we understand their passion. We feel their passion we’re passionate about Topeka as well are passionate about what goes on here. And again, I point to the history of this track, it’s gone through this before. And this is not a full one and done. We firmly believe that this is the end of a chapter in its story, not the full book. And we look forward to working with the public and private side to ensure a strong future for Heartland Motorsports Park and Topeka.”
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