Some race fans in Kansas City are furious after the Kansas City Missouri City Council unanimously approved a plan that will turn the Kansas City International Raceway into a city park.
On Thursday, the City Council approved the purchase of the 93-acre site along Noland Road near 350 Highway in the southeast part of the city. Assistant city attorney Ted Anderson told FOX 4 that the owners of the racetrack wanted to close the sale quickly, but will be allowed to finish out the remainder of this year's racing season.
KCIR has been a part of the city's landscape since it opened in 1967. Racers like Greg Quinn say that they fear that they'll have to give up the sport they love when the drag strip closes. Quinn says that residential development around KCIR in recent years is to blame for prompting the city to buy out the track.
"(The city has) been trying for years to close that. They've done everything they can. It's been in court how many times, trying to close that track. I know if there had been an offer to relocate, I know the track owners and management there would listen to those offers," said Quinn.
KCIR general manager Todd Bridges says that there are no plans to relocate the track, and he finds that to be disturbing.
"I think you'll see a tremendous upswing in street racing. They're going to race. They're going to find a way to fulfill their need for speed," said Bridges. "If the racetrack is not there, they are gong to do it out on the public streets."
The past president of the Little Blue Valley Homes Association says that he doesn't want to drive racers back out onto the streets, saying that neighbors are working with the track to find a bigger and better venue for motor sports in Kansas City. He declined to appear on camera, but said that neighbors have wanted a park nearby for some time, and that the track was sold freely to the city.
But race fans claim that a letter from the city outlining condemnation proceedings shows that KCIR's owners had little choice but to sell their property.
FOX 4 attempted to contact city councilwoman Cindy Circo about the raceway sale, but our phone calls were not returned.
In a statement released on Friday evening, the city said that the sale was approved after several months of negotiations, saying "As mandated by Missouri law when the City acquires property, the City has issued a notice that outlines the property owner's rights. While the wording of this legal notice may leave readers with the impression the sale was mandated, the City is noting that the acquisition that was authorized by ordinance represents a voluntary agreement that is mutually beneficial to both the seller and the City."
"As the property is acquired and developed into parkland, residents in the surrounding community will receive the benefits associated with parkland for generations to come," said the city in the statement.