Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Monday, February 27, 2006

NASCAR in Fontana: Kitsap's Future?

If there were a NASCAR race or two in Kitsap County, it seems most of the economic benefit would be enjoyed by Pierce and King counties -- since that's where the fans would go for hotel rooms, restaurants, and tourist activities other than watching the races.

Fontana, California, may illustrate how a new speedway could affect Kitsap County. A speedway was built near Fontana nine years ago. According to Ontario's Daily Bulletin, Fontana is still hoping to see an economic benefit:

The economic impact of the track to the Inland Empire is $220 million a year with the two races, according to a 2003 report by Redlands-based economist John Husing.

"We wipe out virtually every hotel room in the Inland Empire with that Speedway,'' he said.

However, the lion's share of money from sales taxes and transient occupancy taxes does not go to Fontana, but to Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga instead because those cities have more hotels and sit-down restaurants, Husing said.

Now Fontana wants a bigger piece of the pie and is hungry for developments that can feed off the success of the track. Suggestions include building more hotels, a restaurant row, and even an auto-oriented entertainment complex.

"It is a major economic generator when one of those races goes on,'' Husing said. "The question is how do you lure people from the track into the restaurants and hotels and gas stations and into the city's boundaries.''

Even though the Speedway has been open since 1997, the window of opportunity for Fontana to recapture some tax dollars has not closed, Husing, city officials and planners agree.

For "Ontario" and "Rancho Cucamonga" substitute "King" and "Pierce," and for "Fontana" substitute "Kitsap." It's not a pretty picture for Kitsap County.


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