I-500 on the move?
Michigan snowmobile race may be looking for new home
Story by Snowmobile.com Staff, Jan. 14, 2008Email a friend Print Friendly RSS
The city of Sault Ste. Marie owns the land where the track has been for the last 40 years and a developer has expressed interest in purchasing it.
Moving to a new location, however, may not be a big problem. Because the I-500 helps bring in a lot of tourism to the area, the city doesn’t want to lose the event.
“The city recognizes what the I-500 does,” event spokesman Ric Federau told Snowmobile.com. “In the past 40 years, the I-500 has brought over $92 million to that community.”
Some of the money the city would make if the land is sold could end up going towards the relocation of the track.
“This kind of sale would allow the city to use the funds from the sale to buy property or use the funds to relocate the track on property that the city already owns,” I-500 chairman Jan Bailey says on the race’s website. “The city commission gave the go head to start working on a purchase agreement that also includes relocation of the I-500 track and the development of a new track.”
Keeping the race running every year is a key concern to I-500 organizers and a layoff for a year or two while searching for and setting up a new track is not considered a viable option by the organizers.
“The I-500 committee is assuring our participants and fans that this event will not take any time off period,” the I-500 board says. “We will do nothing to jeopardize the reputation and meaning of the International 500 race. It’s important that the public knows the race must go on without any layoff time between race events now and in future years to come.”
Though many involved with the I-500 would not like to see the 40-year-old track moved due to its history, building an entire new facility has its advantages.
“It’s going to give marketing this race a whole new perspective,” says Federau. “Realistically, we’re going to be able to offer people more than we’ve ever been able to offer: hot-box seats, marketing ability for sponsors and state of the art, modern facilities.”
New locations are already being scouted by the I-500 committee, though the sale of the land is far from finalized.
“We’re looking at maybe three or four sites around the community,” says Federau. “We have to keep it within the city foundation, because we need city water.”
More than 1.5 million gallons of water are used to build the track each year.
Feb. 2, 2008 marks the 40th running of the I-500. Between 10,000 and 15,000 spectators usually attend the race, but organizers are hoping for more this year because of the milestone.