$500 Million Auto Racing/Auto Sales Complex Slated for Arapahoe County
17 August 2000
New Home for Bandimere Speedway and Possible NASCAR SuperspeedwayDenver - One of the nation's largest -- 5,500 acre -- auto racing/recreation/automotive sales complexes which will include the new Bandimere Speedway and a possible International Speedway Corp. NASCAR superspeedway, is slated to rise adjacent to I-70 in Arapahoe County.
The vast $500 million complex -- WorldPark -- will be developed by Highlands Ranch-based Fellows Ventures, Inc., headed by third-generation Colorado developer and real estate investor Chris Fellows.
WorldPark will be located adjacent to Interstate 70 between Monaghan, Watkins and Jewell Roads, in Arapahoe County.
Fellows said that Bandimere Speedway, one of the nation's premier NHRA drag racing facilities, will relocate to WorldPark from its current C-470/Morrison Road site and is slated for a Spring 2002 opening. Bandimere Speedway has been a landmark in Jefferson County for almost 42 years.
Tom Clark, president, Jefferson Economic Council, said, "Bandimere Speedway has been a major economic engine in Jefferson County, attracting thousands of fans during the racing season and having a strong, positive effect on our hospitality and retail industries."
Fellows said he is in active discussion with International Speedway Corp., based in Florida, to build a NASCAR superspeedway. Fellows added that no final agreement has been reached though letters of intent have been exchanged.
Another important segment of the complex would be a 230-acre auto plaza within WorldPark to be created by Denver-headquartered Burt Automotive Network, a major Denver auto dealer and one of the largest Hispanic owned businesses in the United States.
A possible highlight of WorldPark will be a Native American arts and cultural center. Discussions on the subject have already been held with Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Fellows commented.
John Bandimere, president of Bandimere Speedway, acknowledged that there have been community concerns expressed about noise emanating from Bandimere auto racing activities.
"Our neighbors have my personal assurance that we will be doing everything in our power to mitigate noise. First of all, our selection of WorldPark is the culmination of a 14-year search for a racing site that will least impact neighbors and the environment. The Speedway will be located within a 'shell' and be surrounded by land buffers. We will be making concentrated noise mitigation efforts including early closing hours on weekdays and muffled racing classes."
Bandimere added: "During our 42-year history in Jefferson County, the Bandimere family has always tried to be a good neighbor and a contributor to the community. Our speedway was founded with the intention of providing young people with a safe place to take their need for speed. The speedway has evolved into one of the most successful NHRA facilities in the country but that hasn't lessened our contributions to the community."
Bandimere Speedway community programs include "Race to Read," an acclaimed youth reading program, the All American High School Drags, and the annual Fourth of July Festival to benefit the Rocky Mountain Family Council.
L.G. Chavez, executive vice president of Burt Automotive Network, said that Burt's 230-acre auto plaza in WorldPark will consist of dealerships representing numerous manufacturers. Service and retail businesses supporting the automotive industry would be located on the site. Approximately 200 acres would be dedicated to automotive retailing and the remaining 30 would be utilized for automotive support outlets.
"We are enthusiastic about WorldPark. It will draw thousands of people interested in automobiles and it has a unique and central location. We have been looking for just such a location as we have become heavily involved in Internet sales and need a venue where vehicles can be test driven. Given the synergy that exists between the various elements of WorldPark we believe Burt and WorldPark are a good fit," said L.G. Chavez.
Other plans for WorldPark include setting aside land to be utilized for youth baseball fields, soccer fields and other outdoor recreational facilities. The land will be donated for community use by the WorldPark developers.
"It is important to ensure that land for community youth facilities is secured permanently as the area continues to grow. We will be working with the community to create permanent youth sports facilities," said Fellows.
Other potential projects include an ice rink, go-cart course, one or more golf courses with a golf academy, polo fields and an equestrian center. Plans for an "extreme" sports complex featuring an in-line skate park, skateboard park and several amphitheaters with seating capacities ranging from a few hundred to 100,000 are also in the works.
Likewise, a parcel of the land will be developed for mixed-use including commercial, multi-jurisdictional law enforcement training, retail and light industrial use.
"WorldPark has a one-of-a-kind location, close to Denver International Airport and Front Range Airport," said Fellows. "Airport proximity is critical when drawing tourists and attendees from out of state for high-profile racecar events, including NHRA events such as the Mile Hi Nationals."
Fellows added that proximity to I-70 will boost accessibility and help mitigate any traffic problems.
"The size of the parcel was very attractive to us," said Fellows. "We required a site that could accommodate major sporting events, such as NASCAR, which require a huge amount of parking, while maintaining space dedicated for a multitude of other recreational uses, such as golf, sport shooting and drag racing."
Fellows pointed to the benefits resulting from WorldPark development: thousands of full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs, the generation of out-of-state revenue, and positive recreational and social impacts.
"Similar to what the state has seen with the huge draw of the Colorado Rockies, which garners money from the surrounding seven-state region, auto racing has become hugely popular and we could expect the same fiscal benefits," said Fellows.
WorldPark has received endorsement from numerous governmental and sports world leaders.
Said Paul Tauer, Mayor of the neighboring City of Aurora: "WorldPark really helps create what we can call 'Destination: Aurora.' By attracting thousands of visitors WorldPark will provide a major boost to our hospitality industry and lead to much productive economic development. Most important, WorldPark isn't only about auto racing. It gives us a centrally-located active sports facility that will be a source of healthy recreation for thousands of citizens of the City of Aurora and the surrounding area."
Said U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell: "WorldPark will be an exciting entertainment complex that will serve all of Colorado. The inclusion of such highly regarded Colorado enterprises such as Bandimere Speedway and Burt Automotive Network gives it a uniquely Colorado flavor. The proposed Native American Cultural Center at WorldPark will be a welcomed significant addition to Colorado's heritage and be of interest to thousands of visitors to Colorado."
Steve Johnson, president of the 60,000-member Sports Car Club of America, said: "Our association is very excited about the creation of WorldPark. John Bandimere has been one of the most progressive and community-minded auto racing operators in America. We think the Bandimere family is going to make a very positive contribution to Arapahoe County and the City of Aurora."
Joni Inman, Director of Information for the City of Lakewood, said: "Even as residential development has increased surrounding Bandimere Speedway, we have still received very few complaints about noise emanating from the Speedway. We rarely receive more than one or two complaints a year -- even at the height of the racing season."