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Miller Motorsports Park to cease operations this fall, county hopes to find new operating partner

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Posted at 1:16 PM, May 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-08 23:19:53-04

TOOELE, Utah -- Over the past nine years, NASCAR, go-karts, motocross and other races have come to the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele County.

"We know that it really is an outstanding facility," said Frank Zang, senior vice president of communications for Miller Sports Properties. "We have really tried to make this facility work and provide the services to the racing community and enjoyment to our spectators and fans and unfortunately we just haven't become a viable business proposition for us any longer."

Friday, the company informed Tooele County commissioners it is not renewing it's lease at the motorsports park. The slate of summer activities will go on as planned through October 31. All 91 full-time employees still have jobs, at least through the season. But at the end of February next year, the lease ends and the park will be handed back to Tooele County.

County commissioner Wade Bitner said the news came as a surprise.

"We would really like to see someone else come in and take, nobody can take the place of Millers but, to take over the facility and run it because we as the county have other business to do," he said.

Bitner also had a question for Miller managers: Did plans for a new state prison that could be built near the motorsports park influence their decision?

"They said that's not even part of the equation," Bitner said.

The Miller group of companies does own a large piece of land near the park that could be a potential site for the prison.

"The decision not to renew the lease at Miller Motorsports Park is not related at all to the prison relocation issue," Zang said.

For the past nine years, the Miller group of companies paid the county 5 percent of their revenue for the lease of the land. In 2014, that came out to roughly $267,000. In 2013, it was about $337,000.

All three Tooele County commissioners said it is not in the county's interest to take over running the park.

"The ideal scenario would be corporate recruitment of someone who would feel that they could come in and maybe change a couple of things in an existing business model that they've used somewhere else and hit the ground running," said commissioner Shawn Milne.