Governor Terry Branstad went to Knoxville today to sign a bill into law that gives the Knoxville Raceway a state tax break to help finance improvements at the track.
“This is a great facility,” Branstad told Radio Iowa during a telephone interview right after the event. “Last year, in 2013, they attracted 211,000 visitors, so it’s a big tourism attraction and it’s a good investment and it’s great for the state to partner with the community for a project of this magnitude.”
Earlier this year Knoxville Raceway officials announced a $6 million project to add a four-story structure to the facility that will include a series of suites with seating for up to 360. The bill the governor signed into law gives the facility a sales tax rebate of up to $2 million on goods and services sold at the track, which is located on the Marion County Fairgrounds. Sprint car racing’s top competition, the Knoxville Nationals, is held at the track in early August.
“There’s a lot of race fans that come from all over the country to visit Knoxville,” Branstad says. “And when they come during the Nationals they also visit the State Fair and Adventureland and other places as well.”
Track officials hope to have the upgrades done for the start of the 2017 racing season.
The Knoxville Raceway is the third tourism attraction in Iowa to qualify for this kind of state sales tax rebate. State lawmakers have approved the tax break for the Iowa Speedway in Newton and a project in Dyersville for baseball and softball fields and other facilities around the “Field of Dreams” movie site. Governor Branstad said since the state support comes in the form of a rebate of sales tax collected at the sites, it’s not a direct outlay of taxpayer dollars.
“Sometimes it’s not easy to put together a project of that kind of magnitude, but tourism is important to our state,” Branstad said.
Knoxville Raceway bills itself as the “sprint car capital of the world” and races are held every Saturday night starting in mid-April through the end of September.