Aiming to take a similar approach to that of the school of architecture, the people working to build a permanent motorsports park in Sudbury are hiring a project manager to get the idea off the ground.
At a news conference Aug. 9 at the Greater Sudbury Airport, Jim Savage, PR director with the Sudbury District Motorsports Association, announced details of the ambitious, $13.37-million park proposal. The park would be built on 110 acres at the airport, on lands the airport’s board of governors will set aside for the next three years to give the SDMA time to raise money.
“At a minimum, the SDMA will stage 28 events a year by year 5, during the peak season from May to September,” Savage said.
He said the proposal has attracted support from several groups in Sudbury, aside from the racing community. They have sold about 2,500 memberships, each for $10, in just a few years. According to the business plan, the park would generate about $2 million every year in economic activity, and would require about $100,000 to operate annually.
City council has been supportive, as have Greater Sudbury Police, who see the park as a way to reduce the problem of young people speeding on city roadways.
“It’s a legal alternative to street racing,” Savage said. “And it will be the only one of its kind in Northern Ontario.”
Both Cambrian College and College Boreal are also interested in using the park as a training facility, and Savage said it could also be used to host winter motorsports, festivals and other sorts of events.
While a significant amount of money will have to be raised, some funding is in place. The group is banking on getting money from the province, a mix of loans and grants. They’re also counting on getting money from the city – about $1 million in cash and services – and from the private sector. But there is plenty of work ahead, officials agree.
“We’re planning on raising about $8 million over the next three years,” said SDMA president Don Lamontange. “We need $5 million to (prepare) the land. And then we can start building from there.”
Lamontange said, with funding from the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation, they will be hiring a project manager by the fall to head up fundraising.
“Whoever (the project manager is), they will be taking care of all the fundraising,” he said. “And they’ll be in charge of making sure everything is moving forward. But we hope to start building next year, or maybe the year after that. It all depends on how the fundraising goes and the partnerships we get. The work has just started.”
They’re aiming to build a park that can hold up to 5,000 spectators, he added. If all goes well, the park will open in 2015.
“This day has been a long, long time in coming,” he said. “And it’s thanks to all the members, and all the businesses who have supported us. For those who were positive, we thank you. For those who were negative, we told you so.”
Claude Lacroix, chair of the airport’s board of governors, said they’re happy to support the project. The airport has more than 1,200 acres of land, and the site of the proposed motorsports park is an area the airport doesn’t plan to ever use.
“So they need the land, and we have the land,” Lacroix said, adding the airport’s board unanimously agreed to back the park.
Deputy police chief Al Lekun said a safe, controlled environment for racing will make Sudbury safer.
“This is where racing belongs,” Lekun said. “And we understand that driver training and education will be held here, as well.”
And the more educated drivers are, the safer the streets will be, he added.
“Any initiative that helps make our streets safer, we will support.”
Mayor Marianne Matichuk also said supporting the project was an easy decision for city council, since council’s goal is to make “Greater Sudbury one of the best places to visit in Ontario.
“And we all know how much Greater Sudburians love their cars,” she said, and she urged everyone to “get behind this group’s vision.”