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Kansas Speedway resubmits casino bid

Kansas Speedway president Jeff Boerger drove to Topeka in the speedway’s new, black show car today and personally hand-delivered to the Kansas Lottery offices a resubmitted bid for a Hard Rock Casino at the track.

As part of the proposal, Kansas Speedway’s parent company, International Speedway Corporation, will petition NASCAR for a second Sprint Cup series date for the track if Kansas Speedway and its partner in this venture, the Cordish Co., are awarded the casino management contract for Wyandotte County.

The casino, overlooking Turn 2 at Kansas Speedway, is part of a $700 million entertainment destination center that was chosen last September by the Kansas Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board over two other competitors.

But in December, only hours before the project was to receive final approval from the commission, the casino partnership of Kansas Speedway and Cordish -- known as Kansas Entertainment, LLC -- withdrew the application because of the downturn in the economy.

So now, the process has to start over from scratch, first with getting approval from the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/KCK and eventually from the Kansas Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board.

“This is just to start the process,’’ Boerger said. “It was due Wednesday, April 1, but we wanted to turn it in today. As of Wednesday, we’ll know who the competition will be.

“Then, we have (90) days to negotiate the contract with the Kansas Lottery. Once we negotiate that portion of it, they will conduct hearings and the Unified Government will start their endorsement process about June 1.”

If all goes well, Boerger anticipates the casino “to be up and running by the fourth quarter of 2010.”

While it’s possible Kansas’ second NASCAR Sprint Cup event could be added for 2010, the more likely target would be 2011 after the casino opens.

The new proposal will be phased in with the Hard Rock-branded casino with an overall budget of about $390 million, which will include a 100,000-square foot casino floor with a bar and dining and entertainment options.

The remaining phases will include a first-class hotel, spa, convention center and entertainment/retail district.

“We’re not scaling back,” Boerger said. “The only thing that is different in our proposal, is we’re phasing it in. We’re doing the casino first, and the hotel, meeting space, entertainment will come after all the financial markets turn around.”

Waiting another year or longer to build the other components of the project could lead to it costing more than the $700 million figure. But Jon Cordish said: “We believe our budgets to be sound and take into consideration both current and projected economic conditions.

“We are tremendously excited to be returning with our casino development in Kansas. As we did in Florida with the Hard Rock brand, and just did in Indiana with Indiana Live!, we will set in Kansas a new standard for quality and appeal in a regional casino.”

Kansas Entertainment has also committed as part of its proposal to donate an additional 1 percent of its gaming revenues to the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., for use in charitable and civic causes. This is in addition to the statutory taxes payable to the state and local governments.

Besides the second NASCAR event, Kansas Speedway officials also have committed to building a road course in the infield of the facility, and ISC will petition Grand-Am Road Racing to award Kansas Speedway sports car races. Kansas Speedway also has committed two free track-side billboards to the state of Kansas to promote tourism if awarded the casino management contract for Wyandotte County.

“We are committed to bringing a world-class destination casino to Wyandotte County and Kansas Speedway,” Boerger said. “With the addition of a Hard Rock Casino and the potential for a second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway, our project is uniquely capable of maximizing tourism, tax dollars and national and international media attention for both the state of Kansas and Wyandotte County.

“It adds value to our race fans, plus it adds to everything else that is going on at Village West in western Wyandotte County.”

To date, no other company has applied to operate a casino in northeast Kansas, said Kansas Lottery director Ed Van Petten, but he emphasized the deadline is not until Wednesday.

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