Jul 5, 2023 - Politics

Fairgrounds racetrack plan suffers major setback

A car circles the fairgrounds track at a 2022 race. Photo: Dylan Buell/SRX/Getty Images

Mayor John Cooper's fairgrounds racetrack improvement plan suffered a major setback when a Metro Council committee voted Wednesday to defer a tangential bill.

Why it matters: The bill, from Councilmember Zach Young, sought to change the rules for when community meetings are held when they are required by Metro law. The procedural change was seemingly necessary to pass the $100 million funding plan this council term.

  • With the deferral, there is not enough time to hold the required community meeting, scheduled by Councilmember Colby Sledge for July 25, and conduct three council votes on the plan.

Between the lines: Young's bill will automatically be deferred at the council meeting Thursday night. The funding plan can't be considered until after July 25.

What we're watching: Cooper and the racetrack backers could advance the plan in August and then call for a special meeting in the council term's final days. That's a Hail Mary strategy that would face slim chances of approval.

  • In effect, the long-debated racetrack improvement plan, which would have partnered with Bristol Motor Speedway to bring NASCAR back to the fairgrounds, is now on ice.

That seems to punt the issue until a new council and new mayor take office. We asked the top candidates their thoughts on the racetrack financing plan and only two unequivocally said they support it.

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