Middle River group says track will draw international clients Racing panel says site will bring prestige to area

June 04, 1998|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

The Middle River Racing Association met with Pasadena business people yesterday to sell them on the soundness of their idea for a controversial race track on the Solley peninsula.

Middle River spokesman Mike Alfinito told a group comprised largely of fans that the track would bring international clients and prestige to area businesses, and he urged them to get involved in a proposed citizens advisory committee, a group of 25 local residents who will meet monthly with developers to discuss the $100 million speedway.

Alfinito told them plans now call for the track to seat 61,600 people -- not 54,800 as originally proposed -- and said the racing group is trying to buy more property near the proposed track site to accommodate parking and additional buildings.

How many acres is unclear, but the group is trying to lease 100 acres of waterfront property from the Maryland Port Authority. It has several hurdles to pass, despite recent promises to begin demolition on the site by late July, port authority officials said yesterday.

The port authority acquired about 360 acres of land off Kembo Road in 1993, 61 acres of which is to be used for Baltimore harbor dredge spoil and 200 acres for wetland and environmental conservation. Those 260 acres cannot be leased, said Alan Kurland, property manager for the port authority.

The remaining 100 acres have been up for lease for a year and the port authority is considering the racing group's proposal in addition to several others, Kurland said.

Victory Steel, a steel manufacturing company, has a five-year lease on 30,000 feet of building space in the middle of the proposed speedway site, with an option for five additional years. It would be up to the racing group to buy Victory Steel out of its lease, Kurland said.

The racing group must also complete a number of environmental, traffic and noise studies, which would have to received approval from two port authority panels before being submitted for final approval to the state Board of Public Works.

"We are going to be very cautious to see that their plans are good for the environment, and they have to sustain that by providing detailed plans, which they have not yet done." Kurland said,

The racetrack is looking at neighboring Cox Creek and CSX properties for possible purchases. When the group brought the track proposal to Baltimore County a year ago, racing officials were hoping to acquire 700 acres for the 1-mile track. After leaving Baltimore County, the group took their proposal to Kankakee, Ill., where they planned for 700 to 1,000 acres.

Pub Date: 6/04/98

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