International Motor Speedway Complex Announced for Fort Erie
Source: The Niagara Falls Review, Wednesday October 15, 2008
$200-million foreign investment is being made to bring in a major motor-sport speedway, entertainment and commercial complex to Fort Erie.
“It’s on the road to being a done deal,” Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin announced during a press conference at city hall on Tuesday afternoon.
The investment consortium is led by Kuwaiti Islamic investment bank Bayt Al Mal Investments.
Martin just returned from a trip to Dubai, along with Jim Thibert, general manager of the Town’s Economic Development and Tourism Corp., along with Sandra Pupatello, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Trade.
“This is a good opportunity for investment in Niagara that will help to bring tourists back to our area,” said Martin.
Bayt Al Mal has purchased 623 acres of land in Fort Erie, six kilometers from the US-Canadian border, where it plans to build the complex.
Initially, there will be a 65,000 seat facility, which can be expanded to 100,000 seats, and will encompass a one-mile oval track and 2.5 mile road course.
“About 1,200 people will be working on this site to get it prepared. You are looking at about two years worth of construction and that’s good for the economy of Niagara and for Fort Erie,” said Martin.
The project, he added, will help create jobs year-round and not just certain times of the year because a number of different things are planned, some of which cannot be revealed at this time.
Regional Chairman Peter Partington said this project will generate over $34-million a year in new tax revenue and create over 1,200 jobs.
“The region will receive a huge shot-in-the-arm through increased economic development and tourism.”
Shams Faiz, chief operating officer at Bayt Al Mal Investments said this is a strategic location giving them access to a motor-sport fan base of over 120-million people.
Martin said Fort Erie is the ideal location because it will draw visitors from many of the larger communities in the United States such as New York City and Washington and also from the Toronto area.
While there is much still to be done regarding getting everything approved from the various levels of government, Martin noted a great deal has already been done.
“We’re not sure how long this will all take, but we’re hopeful for a 2010 opening date. We still have a lot of work to do in a short period of time. We are going to need the help of the province and the region to make this work.”
Martin said he has received many calls from racing fans who just can’t wait for this project to get started.
“There was a lot of interest on this and we needed to make an official announcement that we are ready to go and that we are moving forward.”
Thibert said the people who are involved in this project “know how to do business” and it will be so much more than just a race car track. The idea will be to have a facility or complex that can be operated on a daily basis.
The mayor said many exciting things are in the works that he can’t talk about just yet.
“Once we make some of the announcements and you see the individual that may be involved in making this thing work I think you will be very impressed,” said Martin.
Jay Mason, one of the local partners on the project, said he is “just thrilled” to see this move forward because a number of people have worked very hard on it and they will be acknowledged at a later time.
“It’s pretty cool. Things are now in place and we might just have to move a few small rocks to get it done,” said Mason, who has been working on a plan for more than four years.
“At the end of the day, it’s not the work of any one person, many people have worked very hard on this and there are those who were involved in what I call the vision stage that did a lot of the heavy lifting.”