Jury orders SMI to pay ISC $950,000 for breaking N.H. deal with MRN
A jury in New Hampshire has ordered Speedway Motorsports Inc.’s New Hampshire Motor Speedway to pay International Speedway Corp.’s Motor Racing Network approximately $950,000 after a weeklong trial to determine whether MRN deserved a contract termination fee from the race track, according to an ISC statement.
When SMI bought the New Hampshire track in January 2008, it wanted its Sprint Cup and Nationwide races on its own radio network, Performance Racing Network. But NHIS had a contract with MRN that ISC said required a three-year notice of termination.
MRN ended up broadcasting the June 2008 Nationwide and Cup races from the newly named New Hampshire Motor Speedway and then PRN got the Cup race in September 2008 and all Nationwide and Cup events beginning in 2009.
SMI and ISC never could agree on a termination fee, and the case went to trial this week in New Hampshire Superior Court in Merrimack County to determine if SMI owed ISC a termination fee. The jury ruled that SMI owed ISC approximately $950,000 for not being given three-year notification that it wouldn't broadcast NHMS races.
“We are pleased the jury has agreed with our position and found New Hampshire Speedway liable,” ISC said in a statement. “From the beginning, this case was about ensuring that NHMS and their parent company SMI would honor their word and live up to their commitments.
“We hope that they will respect the jury’s decision and make good on their obligations so this matter can be concluded.”
While the judge ruled the contract was unenforceable, the jury granted the $950,000 award to ISC based on alleged promises from track officials prior to the sale to SMI.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway officials stated that they are disappointed with the jury's decision and do not believe it was the correct result in this case. They plan to appeal.
SMI and ISC are the two primary track promoters with NASCAR races. ISC stock is primarily owned by the NASCAR-controlling France family. SMI stock is primarily owned by Bruton Smith.
SMI alleged that ISC didn’t exercise its options in time to broadcast New Hampshire races in 2008.
"MRN purportedly took the 'exclusive' right to broadcast all NASCAR events held at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway," Smith wrote in a Feb. 7, 2008 letter to ISC that is part of the court file. "However, in this very same document, MRN left it open for itself to choose whether or not it would, in fact, broadcast any such events. … I cannot in good faith allow New Hampshire Motor Speedway or SMI to be subjected to this one-sided document which leaves them in limbo, subject to the whims of MRN." Scendaily.com