NJ Officials hold talks on NASCAR track
NASCAR's interest in building a racetrack in the Meadowlands is revving up again.
Executives for International Speedway Corp. -- the leading NASCAR track builder -- held "informal preliminary discussions" recently with New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority Chairman Carl Goldberg, according to three sources familiar with the discussions.
Goldberg and an ISC spokesman would not comment about the talks Tuesday.
But details of the proposal already have begun to emerge: a 1.25-mile oval speedway to be constructed in a concentric ring around The Meadowlands Racetrack, the complex's horse racing facility. The sources said the track would fit into the site, even with the just-started construction of a $1.4 billion Giants/Jets football stadium between Giants Stadium and the racetrack.
Other hurdles, however, mean that the proposal is a long way from becoming a reality.
George Zoffinger, the sports authority president, said a local advisory committee appointed in 2002 to analyze potential development at the sports complex expressed clear opposition to NASCAR, a sport where races can draw 100,000 people on one summer weekend day.
A NASCAR track at the Meadowlands wouldn't be auto racing's first foray into the Jersey marshes. Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) ran the Meadowlands Grand Prix on the service roads between Giants Stadium and then-Byrne Arena from 1984 to 1991. Crowds ranged from 35,000 to 50,000, but the organizers and the state struggled to make a profit. CART tried -- and failed -- to move the race to lower Manhattan in 1992.
"[ISC] will have to be convincing in order to overcome noise and traffic issues, as well as community resistance, that have been apparent for quite a while," Zoffinger said.
State Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, who served on that committee, agreed.
"They would need to embark on the most magnificent public relations campaign you could ever imagine," he said.
NASCAR also would need the approval of the Giants and Jets as well as Colony Capital, which is building the Xanadu retail and entertainment facility at the Continental Arena site. Xanadu and the Giants/Jets stadium joint venture have veto power over new development at the sports complex.
But auto racing officials repeatedly have said they are determined to add the Big Apple market to their list of sites. More at Bergen Record