KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Thousands of race fans are arriving for the big Sprint Cup race this weekend. Kansas Speedway has hosted a NASCAR race in the Kansas City, Kan., community for 12 years, and the speedway continues to transform the area in ways few could have predicted.
Cabelas and Nebraska Furniture Mart have made this a year-round destination. And with the opening of the first of two new Cerner office towers, eventually there will be 4,000 more workers drawing paychecks out here.
When Kansas Speedway opened, there was literally nothing around it. Nebraska Furniture Mart, one of several destination attractions, opened two years later. And now the whole tourism district around the speedway generates about $62 million a year in sales taxes. In fact, when the bonds that helped pay for creating this area are paid off by 2017, the Unified Government is expected to reap an additional $13 million in sales taxes. The area around Kansas Speedway already generates more property taxes than any other area except Fairfax, between $9 million and $11 million a year.
"Think of building a 100,000 person city for four days and what it means for the surrounding area," said Cindy Cash, president of the Kansas City, Kansas Chamber of Commerce. "For me that's the best analogy of all. You have 100,000 people coming to one location and then the goods and services they buy and the impact on the community."
That's not too shabby for an area that used to have only a fast food restaurant, tavern and convenience store. The speedway is widely credited for the being the catalyst for making all that happen. And having two NASCAR races a year often is compared to a city hosting two Super Bowls in terms of dollars and cents.
The city of Kansas City, Kan., has a goal of convincing race fans to stay longer. With all the attractions around the speedway, a two or three-day event has more people staying for four or five days.