IRL holding spot on schedule for Milwaukee

The Indy Racing League is interested enough in returning to the Milwaukee Mile next year that it will hold open several dates in the 2010 IndyCar Series schedule in hope that a viable promoter group emerges.

On Tuesday, a top state fair official disclosed that at least six groups had contacted State Fair Park about taking over the troubled track. Whether any of them is serious or capable might come to light when the State Fair Park Board of Directors holds a special meeting on the topic Monday night.

"If somebody's out there and has looked at it before or knows enough about racing and has personal relationships with IRL and NASCAR, that might be all that they really need to be able to get this going," Craig Barkelar, the park's interim executive director, said Tuesday.

"I still hope that we can do this, and I think our board does, otherwise they wouldn't meet a few weeks before the Fair."

Deadlines – both certain and unspecified – loom over the 106-year-old racetrack.

Wisconsin Motorsports, which took on the racing promotions contract in February, owes rent to State Fair Park, Barkelar said. If its deadline of Sunday is not met, the board could vote to void its contract.

The group also owes more than $2 million to the IRL and NASCAR for races at the track this season. Both sanctioning bodies have said they need to be paid for 2009 before agreeing to return in 2010 dates, regardless of who operates the track.

Still, the IRL has "spots on the calendar for them and at the end of the day, we would love to be back in Milwaukee," spokesman John Griffin said.

"None of us can deny the great crowd we had there this year, and we built on a great crowd that we had the previous year. We want to see if there's an opportunity to build on that momentum."

[Editor's Note: Attendance was good, but how many were ticket giveaways that reduce revenue and turn a profit into a loss? Once you paper a market with free tickets for years, fans expect freebies every year and don't buy.]

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