Glimmer of hope for Milwaukee Mile

The future of auto racing at the Milwaukee Mile got a little brighter on Monday.

The Wisconsin State Fair Park Board's executive committee met in closed session Monday to discuss a proposed lease agreement with Historic Mile LLC, the latest group that wants to promote races at the historic racetrack.

The proposed agreement, which the full Wisconsin State Fair Park Board is expected to consider next Monday, calls for a considerably smaller license fee than the previous two race promoters were asked to pay.

Under the new agreement, Historic Mile will be asked to pay $180,000 a year for the first five years of the 10-year deal. Historic Mile also has the option of deferring up to $120,000 of the first year's fee and $60,000 of the second year's fee.

By June 30, 2014, the fee for each of the remaining years of the initial term will be negotiated; the fee will not be less than $198,000.

Tony Machi, a retired judge who is one of two principals in the group, said his group would pay the fair in full and not take advantage of the deferral offer. He also said there is no profit-sharing arrangement with the fair.

In contrast, Wisconsin Motorsports, which had held the rights to promote auto racing, had agreed to pay State Fair a fixed fee of $15,000 a month as well as 10% of each month's gross revenue, capped at $300,000 in 2009.

The proposed agreement with Historic Mile appears intended to give the new group as much help as possible to stage races at the track. In return, Historic Mile also agreed to pay for improvements that sanctioning bodies such as NASCAR and the Indy Racing League might require in the future.

In anticipation of the new group reaching agreement with State Fair, NASCAR scheduled a June 18 Camping World Truck Series at the track, followed the next day by a Nationwide Series race.

However, NASCAR and the IRL are collectively owed an estimated $2 million from previous unpaid sanction fees. Asked if his group had satisfied that debt, Machi said: "We made NASCAR happy." He declined to provide further details.

Machi also declined to reveal his business partners. The only other investor who has been publicly identified is local businessman Jim Beaudoin. Machi said he would disclose his other backers after the full board votes on the deal next week.

Asked if Historic Mile could earn a profit while other promoters have not, Machi said, "We wouldn't be standing here if we didn't think we could. I think we can."

Under the proposed deal, State Fair can terminate its agreement with Historic Mile if by Sept. 30 of each year it cannot get a contract and dates for NASCAR races.

IRL has not scheduled a race at the track in 2010.

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